Social Media, Group Chats, Teams and work
As the boundaries between work and leisure become more blurred it’s important to understand that comments made on social media and in group chats can affect your employment.
In some cases employees can be dismissed for making comments about their workplace, employer, manager or co-worker using social media forums, or even internal chat forums such as Teams chats. Therefore it is always wise to err on the side of caution and think before making any comment that relates to your employment.
Cases before the Fair Work Commission give indication as to what the Commission deems as inappropriate use of these forums. The Commission recognises the issue can be complex because such matters can also involve freedom of expression and intrusion of privacy however there are some important matters ASU members need to remember when they participate in social media or group chat forums.
The issues to be aware of include:
- Any adverse remarks regarding the organisation, co-workers, clients and or customers has the potential to be used by an employer as the basis for disciplinary action or termination of your employment. It is not just about criticising your employer directly.
- If your employer can show that your actions have the ability to damage the company in any form, it will make the employer’s case for a dismissal much stronger.
- It doesn’t matter when you post comments – whether you’re at work or at home, your comments can be used against you.
- “Liking” or “re-tweeting” other people’s posts can be interpreted as “re-publishing” them. You may be as accountable as the person who originally posted them.
- If the comments made by the employee were accessible to the public, or to people at the workplace then this also harms the employee’s position.
- If the employee is requested to remove the offensive material and does not comply, it will not help the situation.
- Your employer may have specific Social Media, IT, and Code Of Conduct Policies (or similar) which directly speak to your use of these platforms.
- Remember, these forums extend to group chats including Teams, and work Signal or WhatsApp groups (your employer may have direct access to some of these platforms, or request that your colleagues & friends share the screenshots of your messages during investigations)
Social Media forums can also be used in ways that can unintentionally cause harm such as the case of the employee who called in sick but was subsequently found to be at a social function thanks to some photos posted online that they were tagged in. Make sure your tag option is set so that you can review anything that you may be tagged in prior to it being posted.
Just remember to think very carefully about what you post about work when using social media forums.
Helpful tips to avoid the pitfalls online
- Adjust your privacy settings & review them often
- Restrict most content to only people you know
- ‘Informal’ group chats can still be considered work related
- Do not friend your boss
- Do not identify your employer in posts
- Only post things that you’re happy to have in a public forum
Posts that are likely to cause you a problem
- Are likely to cause serious damage to the relationship between the employer and employee, ie. they are offensive or cause your employer to lose trust in you
- Damage the employers’ interests
- Are incompatible with the employee’s duties & responsibilities, ie. the post shows you breaking company rules
Be aware that even with the top privacy settings, you’re not completely protected. The internet is a public forum!
When using social media always ask yourself first, ‘How will I feel if my manager or mum sees this?’
If you have any issues contact the ASU.