Social Media Guidelines for Employees
Don’t put anything up about fellow employees or about your employment on Facebook – Who knows who will see it.
If your employer sees it you will probably try and claim it was private to you and even though you may send it privately to somebody you have no guarantee that it won’t be seen.
Comments about colleagues about their out of hours leisure activities can be taken as harassment and again can be taken as being in the public domain.
To try and say that your own human rights have been breached by somebody reading your private mail will not work.
Evidence found on social media (Facebook) can be evidence of misconduct. For example, if you are out sick and on full pay you can’t be updating your Facebook page describing some active activities you are involved in whether for payment or not.
You can’t be dishonest and the employer is quite entitled to fire you after an enquiry is made as to what went on. Even the effect on fellow employees can be justifiable reason to fire you.
Any dishonest or illegal behaviour on social media is also grounds for dismissal.
There may be a case for allowing derogatory comments and they won’t always be grounds for dismissal but you have to be very careful because if you “let off steam” about something every case will turn on its facts as to what is defamatory and what is not.
If others feel threatened by the language you used then you will be in trouble. There is an example in the case law of somebody sending an e-mail “eat cake bitch”. This sort of comment will get you fired as clearly someone feels threatened by this type of comment.
Even if you are found out and investigated about this if you refuse to make amends and don’t apologise you will definitely do yourself harm.
For employers it is not enough to say there is a breach of our social media policy and then fire the employee. The same principle of reasonableness will still apply and investigation must be clear and transparent and the accused person given a chance to explain their activities. A sensible employer will take the attitude of the other employees and whether a complaint was made by them about the comment. It must also require that the offending remark or e-mail has to be removed and a correction made to those who are affected.
In summary the employee must ask first what damage is done before invoking employment law procedures.
In summary for employees do not post comments on any social media – there is no privacy in social media.
The main word here to remember is social!