February 18th, 2015 / Insight posted in

Beware – Social Media is just that… social!

By Adam Flight There have been a number of cases recently where employees have faced disciplinary action, including being dismissed, for comments posted on their own social media pages, even though those employees thought that their settings on these sites were set to “private”. Recent cases include a worker who was dismissed for “liking” a comment about his boss being attacked with a chair and then responding to another employee’s comment which contained a genuine typo. However, the employee won their case at the Employment Tribunal and was awarded over £30,000 for being unfairly dismissed due to the sanction being deemed as too harsh under the circumstances. In another instance, a waitress was dismissed for putting a comment on Facebook about expectations of being tipped after a meal, which resulted in a customer complaint. According to research conducted by HR recruiter Ortus, they found that disciplinaries rose 15% between March 2013 and March 2014, with the most common (20%) reasons for disciplinary action being the misuse of internet and breaches of social media policies. In order to ensure that any disciplinary action is fair, many businesses are now implementing social media policies, in addition to current “misuse of internet” policies. Employees need to be made aware that any comment made on any form of social media, regardless of any privacy settings, could be seen by or fall in to the hands of the wrong people which may result in disciplinary action being taken. In addition, future employers may also review your social media profiles, comments and photos as part of the hiring process so ensure there is nothing on your profile that you wouldn’t want them to see or read. If you are a business that is thinking of implementing such a policy, ensure that it is properly communicated to the workforce so that you have set the expectations of the business before deciding to bring disciplinary action against an employee.