by Professor Virginia Mantouvalou – Professor of Human Rights and Labour Law at UCL, Faculty of Laws, and Co-editor of the UK Labour Law Blog
See also –Unfair Dismissal, Unfair Dismissal Claim Template with Guidance [Misconduct], Unfair Dismissal Claim Template [Misconduct], Unfair Dismissal Claim Checklist [Misconduct], Automatically Unfair reasons for Dismissal , ACAS Code of Practice 1 on Discipline and Grievance Procedures
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 main UK platforms are Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
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 reTweet, 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 offline activity. There is no specific regulation of social media, so existing employment, criminal, data protection and human rights laws apply.
The fact that you have used social media, email or the internet inappropriately should not always lead to a dismissal. The Guide to Dismissal for misuse of social media and email helps you to thoroughly prepare your defence. In a worst case scenario, your preparation should 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 covers essential information on;
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 reconsider 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.
BBC Radio 4 Podcast – The Untold
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