As an employer, a term we don’t often come across but is starting to get more publicity is “Adverse Action”.
What this means is employees are protected from having adverse action taken against them, including dismissal, taken against them for exercising a workplace right.
Where it gets complicated is around “ the exercising of a workplace right” – which is an employee’s right to make a complaint or inquiry in relation to their employment.
Recent Fair Work Australia cases highlight just how cautious you need to be in taking action against an employee who makes a complaint or inquiry about their employment say about there entitlements.
To be on the safe side, assume that taking adverse action against an employee for making this kind of complaint or inquiry could lead to an adverse action claim.
For example – an employee brought an adverse action claim under the FW Act, alleging the had been dismissed for exercising a workplace right but questioning ways certain things were operating. This opens up a whole area of whether the complaint is directly related or has a indirect nexus with their conditions of employment.
Summary: All in all this a very complicated area of Industrial Relations and hard to distill into a brief note but the lesson is simple – seek advice from HR Central before terminating an employee. What you might consider a fair reason for termination could well be something Fair Work believes is a workplace right of your employee.