The employment perils of social media

Social media provides powerful communication channels with friends and relatives, but there is a downside - and it can be a costly one.

A disturbing number of users assume that their posts are private because they’re typing at home on their laptop or into their mobile phones, when in fact they can be making very public statements.

The drive to confess

In one case we advised on, an employee phoned in sick and then spent the day posting updates on their shopping trip. To add insult to injury they made insulting remarks about their boss.

Needless to say, this did not end well for the employee, who was dismissed for gross misconduct. Should the employer have checked her social media? The pages were public, so legally, yes.

Confidentiality clauses

When employers and employees settle grievances, for example at tribunals, there is often a confidentiality clause that is a condition of any compensation being paid.

This applies absolutely to social media and in fact there are few more public ways to break the agreement and risk having a settlement clawed back in court.

Get mad, but not public

In one high profile case, an employee was made redundant and immediately took to social media to level very public criticisms and allegations at the employer.

The employer’s lawyers then successfully argued that the former employee had brought the business into disrepute, breached her employment contract and could therefore be sacked.

This meant that the employee lost the redundancy payment they would have been due.

Think twice before you post

There are laws to protect privacy, but if you post on social media you might as well be putting an ad in the press or placing a 48-sheet poster outside your boss’s window.

Should an employer be checking your pages? In their position, would you? More than this, if someone applied to you for a job, would you look at their social media pages to find out more?

This final point may be more important than anything else. What you post online tends to stay online - and one day it might come back to haunt you.

Here are the types of cases we handle:

  • Contracts of Employment
  • Employer Staff Handbooks
  • Redundancy Process
  • Breach of Contract
  • Breach of Restrictive Covenants
  • Tribunal Claims
  • Settlement Agreements
  • Consultancy Agreements

Sports and Football Law

  • Contracts of Employment
  • Service Agreements
  • Contractual Issues
  • Executive Departures

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