We all loved WhatsApp when it first arrived; convenient and cheap messaging was here and it was here to stay.
But then employers started using it, and all of a sudden, we were dealing with unread messages, muting groups and fearing a WhatsApp message from a particular work colleague.
So do you as an employee or do you as an employer need to be careful with how you use WhatsApp? Simply put, yes!
The Basic Conditions of Employment Act 75 of 1997, as amended (“BCEA”)
The BCEA states that an employee may not work longer than 45 hours a week. And that an employee is entitled to a daily rest period of 12 consecutive hours and a weekly rest period of 36 hours, which include Sunday.
Does this include not having to respond or be messaged during your non-working hours or days? It seems yes. Therefore an employee should not be expected to be available 24 hours a day to an employer and an employer should not feel free to contact employees whenever they want.
But we all know emergencies do emerge, and sometimes communicating on WhatsApp can ease the situation very quickly. So using WhatsApp messaging for work does have some perks.
Cybercrimes Act 19 of 2020 (“Cybercrimes Act”)
The Cybercrimes Act creates offences for threats to people, categories of people and property through data messaging. This also includes sending personal work data to people outside of work through WhatsApp.
You need to be mindful of the content you share on your WhatsApp groups. One innocent joke can lead to a whole lot of legal issues. So be mindful of what you are sharing and to whom you are sharing this information.
In conclusion, keep your messaging legally clean and relevant, and try your best to keep your work-related messaging during work hours.
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.