When Social Media Goes Wrong

Having to give an employee their notice is never a pleasant experience for either party.

If the situation does arise, the best outcome is that both you and the member of staff in question can leave the relationship amicably with the right contracts and paperwork to back you up…

However, that’s not always the case.

I came across an article this week that described the recent dismissal of a canal worker:


After eight good years of service, the employee was dismissed due to his actions on Facebook two years previously, he took his case to a tribunal where the mitigating circumstances allowed him to claim unfair dismissal.

Now I don’t claim to be the Queen of social media, but I DO  know that posting derogatory comments about your work and your boss on your Facebook account, plus letting the world know you’re getting drunk on company time is a rather stupid idea that definitely isn’t going to stay private.

The Employment Appeals Tribunal  have since overturned the decision, and the unfair dismissal charge has been dropped.

As these cases involving social media are still fairly new and few in number, it’s easy to see why businesses aren’t always prepared when their staff act inappropriately online.

However, it’s essential that you layout your  expectations and make sure your employees have the correct guidelines, knowing what they can and can’t do when they are using the internet not only at work but when referencing work as well.

How to create boundaries between social media at home and work…

  • Develop a policy setting out  what is and what is not acceptable for general behaviour and the use of the internet, emails, smart phones and social media at work.
  • Employees should regularly check the privacy settings on their social networking pages, as they can change.
  • Employers should inform and consult with their employees if planning to change the monitoring of social media activity affecting the workplace.
  • Make sure you have the necessary clauses in your contracts to back up your policies.
  • Make sure your policy on bullying includes references to ‘cyber bullying’…..just in case!

Make sure your business is covered and it’s far less likely that your team will make such misdemeanours or that your employees can take action against you.

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