The line between our personal and professional lives is increasingly blurred with the use of social media.
Offensive remarks on social media may be of interest to your employer or prospective employer. Some employees have found themselves facing a disciplinary hearing or even dismissal as a result of their use of social media.
Here are our top tips for using social media and the internet at work.
Use of Social Media
Twitter accounts are often linked to employers and organisations, so it is important that public messages are posted with caution. Twitter profiles are usually public so anyone, including a colleague, boss, prospective employer can see what you have been posting.
To find out more see our blog on fired for use of Twitter.
Facebook friends often include colleagues from work – even with your privacy settings at maximum, bad mouthing someone from work or offensive comments may make their way back to your employer.
Many companies have social media policies in effect which go wider than prohibiting the making of defamatory statements or breaching confidentiality. Financial services company, Hargreaves Lansdown fired Rayhan Qadar this year for Gross Misconduct when he tweeted “Think I just hit a cyclist. But I’m late for work so had to drive off lol.” The stockbroker later apologised for his distasteful joke.
Inappropriate Computer, Email and Internet Use
Depending on your employer’s policy, it might be acceptable to send personal emails or browse the web during certain times of the day, but most employers are likely to monitor time spent browsing the internet and access to inappropriate websites. They will usually prohibit downloading files which might be a risk to security. Violations of the policy could lead to disciplinary action.
Three UK judges were dismissed earlier this year for watching pornography on the Ministry of Justice’s IT system. The Judicial Conduct Investigations Office said that viewing pornography at work is wholly unacceptable and decided that it amounted to gross misconduct.
Viewing pornography or other offensive material at work may amount to unlawful harassment if there is another person present in the office when the material is being viewed.
Remember that all work devices including laptops, smartphones and tablets may be subject to monitoring by your employer and policies about acceptable use are likely to cover them too.
The expert Employment Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK can provide you with expert legal support during your employment disciplinary or grievance hearing. For an initial consultation call freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online.