Adverse action

Put simply, “adverse action” is where an employer does something that affects your employment in a negative way.

An employer takes “adverse action” against you if they:

• refuse to employ you;
• offer you different employment conditions compared to other employees;
• dismiss you;
• treat you differently from other employees;
• “injure you in your employment”;
• “alter your position to your prejudice”; or
• threaten to do any of the above things.

What does “injure you in your employment” mean?

Here, the word “injure” doesn’t mean a physical or mental injury – it means that your employer does something that has a negative impact on one or more of your legal rights.

An example of this might be reducing your pay or reducing your hours.

What does “alter your position to your prejudice” mean?

An employer “alters your position to your prejudice” if they do something which has a negative impact on some benefit or advantage that you have.

An example of this might be demoting you, suspending you, giving you a warning, or conducting an investigation which makes your job less secure.

Is adverse action against the law?

Adverse action is not against the law on its own and employers are allowed not to employ people, to take disciplinary action against employees and to dismiss them in certain circumstances. However, if an employer takes adverse action against you for a “prohibited reason”, then it may be against the law.

For more information on adverse action and prohibited reasons, see our fact sheet General protections for national system employees.