We've heard of the job applicant who misses out because
their face is all over Facebook in embarrassing positions.
Similarly there's the worker who Twitters what a great time
they're having at the cricket when they're on a sickie.
Then there's the blogger who's spotted writing how much
they hate their boss.
The dangers of social media in the work place are well
documented. But now comes a warning that even the benign career
networking site LinkedIn can land workers in hot water.
A Canberra interior designer was sacked from his day job when
his boss found he was using LinkedIn to connect to potential
clients for his small out-of-hours business. The designer was fired
after he sent a group email via LinkedIn saying he planned to
expand his fledgling business to a full time design practice.
Even though his employer allowed him to work in his private
capacity on smaller jobs outside work, the Fair Work Commission
ruled the employer was within its rights to fire him as he was
soliciting work that could be in competition to his employer. The
case highlights the lesson that what people post on social media
isn't necessarily a private matter that has nothing to do with
their employer. Always ask yourself before you post, tweet or email
something whether you'd be happy for your boss to read it.
Kym Luke, employment law specialists at Stacks/The Law Firm,
says employers should take note. "There's a need to set
clear guidelines for employees on the use of social media in the
workplace," Kym said. "If they have a small business on
the side or work somewhere else casually, there should be an
unambiguous policy spelling out what the employee can and can't
Employees have to be informed of the consequences if they do
something on social media that might conflict with their employer,
or brings their company into disrepute.
Some employers might want to simply ban using social media in
the workplace, but this might not be beneficial in businesses that
benefit from employees networking and building work contacts
through social media.
What happens when an employee who built a large social media
network while with the company leaves to set up on his or her own?
Can they take the social media contacts with them? The courts are
generally deciding this on a case by case basis. Employers need to
get good legal advice to put in place a social media policy as it
applies to their particular circumstances, including ongoing
obligations for departing employees.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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The issue of recording telephone calls was recently considered in the Federal Court in Furnari v Ziegert  FCA 1080.
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