Social Media and Unfair Dismissal – Don’t tweet your way to a P45
Social media is a way of using the internet to interact and share business as well as personal interests with other people all over the world. The 3 main networking sites are Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. In addition to these main players there are various other platforms, blogs, forums and comment spaces on information websites. Suffice it to say that social media is huge and you are probably a user of one or more of these platforms. Together with emails and text messaging, the one thing they all have in common is that using them carelessly may cost you your job and worse.
You can Tweet and re-Tweet, post status updates, like, comment and share opinions and information instantly with a national and global audience. The problem is that once it’s gone, it’s gone! There are no safeguards, you don’t know here that communication is going and unlike some e-mails, once you hot that button you have no way of recalling what you’ve sent. Even if you delete your account, the communication can be saved and shared. It remains permanently in the ether to come back and haunt you, when you least expect it.
Using your personal social media account to share with “friends”, “followers” and “connections” can still cause problems at work because you have no control over who they share your communication and personal information with. Misuse or inappropriate use of social media, email and text messaging can create criminal and civil liability for you and your employer. Most criminal offences that can be committed by using words or images can be committed using social media, and the legal repercussions are the same as off-line activity. There is no specific regulation of social media, so existing employment, criminal, data protection and human rights laws apply.
How to use this guide
The fact that you have used social media or the internet inappropriately will not always lead to dismissal if you use this Guide to thoroughly prepare your case and defence. In a worst case scenario, your preparation could give you enough ammunition to negotiate a settlement agreement and leave on agreed terms rather than be dismissed.
By using this Guide you will have the tools to understand and address the different problems that can arise with the Internet, E-mail, Social Media and other electronic communication tools and applications. The Guide breaks down case law in a user friendly way so that you can easily apply cases to your particular situation.
The Guide is supplemented by information on the website – www.employeerescue.co.uk and covers everything you need to know, taking you quickly and simply through essential information on;
- Your legal rights
- Case law
- Remedies and compensation
- The latest information on social media in employment
If it is alleged that you have breached your employer’s policy on social media, it is likely that you will face disciplinary action, which could lead to disciplinary sanctions, including dismissal. You will have the opportunity to put your case forward at a disciplinary hearing. If your employer should dismiss you, you will have another opportunity to ask your employer to re-consider the decision at an appeal hearing. If the dismissal is confirmed, you can apply to ACAS for Early Conciliation if you believe that your dismissal was unfair. Employee Rescue has several Guides available on the website, www.employeerescue.co.uk to assist you in pursuing your chosen direction.
Contents of the Guide
How to use this guide
Social media and internet use mistakes
The Employment Contract
Harassment and discrimination
Breach of contract
The implied duty of mutual trust and confidence
The implied duty regarding health and safety at work
Cyber bullying, trolling and mobbing
Malicious Communications Act 1988
Equality Act 2010
The duty to obey reasonable and lawful orders
The implied duty of good faith and fidelity (loyalty)
Bringing the employer into disrepute
Are social media posts private?
Posts and emails can be used in evidence against you
Conduct outside of work
Bring your own device (BYOD)
How to defend yourself in disciplinary action
Your Employers Duty to Act Reasonably and follow a Fair Procedure
So how do you defend yourself?
The No policy/wrong application of policy defence
The European Convention on Human Rights and the Human Rights Act
The Article 8 defence
The Article 10 defence
No damage to employer’s reputation defence
STATEMENT OF DEFENCE
This resource is published by Employee Rescue Limited. Please note that the information and any commentary on the law contained herein is provided for information purposes only. The information and commentary does not, and is not intended to, amount to legal advice. Employee Rescue accepts no responsibility for any loss occasioned to any person acting or refraining from action as a result of the material contained in this publication.
Further specialist advice should be taken before relying on the contents of this publication. You can send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for such specialist advice if required.