HRBC Forum Summary

December 2020: The best of the worst employee social media posts

In the final HR Breakfast Club of the year, Gabrielle Sullivan, Legal Director from BAL Lawyers, presented on the best and worst of employee social media posts.

In opening, Gabrielle explored exactly what employees can post on social media.

Although employees are generally free to do as they please in their home time and similarly, are expressly obligated to obey company policy when at work, she highlighted the emerging grey area that exists when posting to social media.

Interestingly, conduct that occurs outside of work that does not involve any work-related activities can still result in a breach of an organisation’s social media policy if there is a relevant nexus of connection between the conduct and the workplace.

Gabrielle then turned our minds to the factors that allow an employer to take action against a social media post and explored through several relevant cases how courts and tribunals approach to an employer’s ability to reprimand or terminate employment based on a social media post.

Factors taken into account include but are not limited to posts that are defamatory, bullying, contrary to workplace policy, or if it impacts the employer’s reputation in any way.

However, where an organisation’s social media policy expressly comments on out-of-work conduct when interacting with other staff, an employer may have the ability to reprimand or terminate after all.

Simply put, there is nothing simple about social media and employment at all.  

The major takeaway lesson for employers was to ensure you have an up-to-date Social Media Policy.

Although a complicated and grey area of HR and the law, simple polices can protect both the employer and the employee from difficult and complicated matters.

Contact our Employment Law & Investigations Team for more information.

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