If You Need to Say ‘No’ to Your Employer

There are probably two aspects to being able to say no:

  • One is about having the confidence to say no
  • The other is about you and your employer knowing your rights so that it’s clear when to say no.

Checking what you and your employer’s rights and expectations are is the first step you can take. Your contract of employment should outline the duties and responsibilities that you have, so it would be useful to check this first. This may help you understand whether or not you are expected to do something in your job.

For grey areas, it could be worth considering if you have the ability or relevant training to do what you have been asked.
You should be able to say no to anything which is not a reasonable instruction or request, or which is outwith your role, without fear of it negatively impacting your employment.

You can ask for or wait for your next supervision session where issues can be raised and discussed in a safe manner.

It is a very useful life skill to have the personal confidence to say no. You could be saying no as a matter of personal safety or maintaining personal and professional boundaries, or as a personal choice. It may be that you have to practice saying no if you are the type of person who usually says yes.

Knowing you are making a reasonable request in a reasonable manner will help you feel confident in saying no.

Next steps

Take a look at the article on ‘Developing Your Relationship With Your Employer’. You can also speak to the PA Network Scotland for informal advice about how to deal with workplace situations.

Part of
Last Updated
02 February 2024
First Published
01 April 2022
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Please note that the information contained in this Handbook is provided for guidance purposes only. Every reasonable effort is made to make the information accurate and up to date, but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by Self Directed Support Scotland or any other contributing party.

The information does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. You are strongly advised to obtain specific, personal and professional advice from a lawyer about employment law matters, or an accountant/ tax specialist about taxation matters, and from HMRC and your insurers. You should not rely solely on the information in this Handbook. Support organisations listed in this Handbook can help you find appropriate sources of advice.