When social media posts become gross misconduct

Fri 13th Jan 2017

Social media is blurring the boundaries between our personal and professional lives. We discuss how this can lead to gross misconduct cases.

“Social media channels give us unprecedented opportunities to broadcast our views. We can now publish our thoughts to a global audience in a matter of seconds. A growing number of employees are being dismissed as a result of sharing confidential material or posting inappropriate comments. Whereas people may previously have ranted about their difficult boss to a friend in the pub, they can now broadcast it to millions on Facebook.

“So, what can businesses do about this? Employers should remind staff to be wary of sharing any work related matters on personal social media accounts. You should also ensure your disciplinary procedure include a list of gross misconduct offences, which have been tailored for your own business. One of the offences that businesses commonly include is ‘bringing the business (or employer) into serious disrepute’. But what does that mean?

“Broadly speaking, bringing the business into serious disrepute means misconduct that negatively affects the employer’s reputation. This could include sexual misconduct or violence, which has the potential to damage the business’ reputation. On social media, it could include an employee posting derogatory comments about their employer, another member of staff or a client. This could also extend to an employee making, for example, sexist or racist remarks on their personal social media, presenting a real risk of mixing social and work, particularly if customers have access to that social media platform as the often do. At best, if an employer is aware that this sort of material is being privately posted, a clear discussion should be had with the employee as to maintaining the boundaries between work and private life. But in extreme cases there could be employment issues.

“If you are faced with a case like this, ensure you investigate the employees’ misconduct. If their behaviour has the potential to harm the reputation of your business, disciplinary action could be justified.”

For more information on this or any Employment enquiries contact the team on 0800 328 3282 or email info@coodes.co.uk

Fri 13th Jan 2017

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