The general protections laws protect people from 'adverse' actions at work. Adverse action is a harmful action a person takes or threatens to take.
Adverse action is when someone acts, plans or threatens to:
- dismiss an employee
- injure an employee in their employment
- harm an employee by changing their job, for example by cutting shifts or hours
- discriminate between employees
- not hire someone
- offer a potential employee different (unfair) terms and conditions compared to other employees
- end or refuse to enter into a contract with an independent contractor
- take industrial action against their employer.
In most cases it is an employer that takes adverse action. But other people can also take adverse action. This includes contractors, employees and industrial associations.
The full list of adverse actions is in section 342 of the Act.
You may be eligible to apply if someone has taken 1 of these adverse actions against you. You must also show that this action was taken for a prohibited reason. We explain this in Prohibited reasons in general protections.
If adverse action has not happened to you, you may still be protected. See Other protections at work.
What is not adverse action
Not all harmful action is 'adverse' action. Someone can take action for genuine reasons. For example, an employer is not taking adverse action when they:
- offer a lower salary to a job applicant because they have less experience
- decide not to hire a potential employee because they do not have a driver’s licence and the job requires a licence
- make a person’s role genuinely redundant.