Social media is part of everyday life now.
People within their social or work group tend to chat on Facebook like they might do at a dinner party. Witty tweets are commonplace. Professionals like to network on LinkedIn. Perhaps unsurprisingly, your employers and your potential employers like to see what you’re up to on these sites. The latter can get a deeper insight into their potential recruits. Some people don’t get the job as a result.
Whilst these activities may be fun, you must never ever underestimate the damage that can be done to your livelihood by just one ill-placed remark. It may not even seem to be a foolish remark. It may also be the truth. But if your employer thinks it casts them in a poor light, you may find yourself in trouble. Furthermore, remarks that get you into trouble at work may not be about your employer, it’s just that it’s offensive and your employer does not want to be associated with someone who makes these kind of remarks. The case of the youth police commissioner in spring 2013 is a good example of this.
By way of another example, we recently dealt with disciplinary cases where a network of clinical staff in the NHS used Facebook to let off steam after a bad shift. The settings were private so only group members could see them. But one of them broke ranks and brought the Facebook discussion to the attention of management. One of our members was suspended pending a disciplinary hearing and she was told she faced dismissal. With our support and representation, our member was not dismissed. Through our early intervention, our member was brought back to work before the investigation had concluded.
You do not want to risk getting yourself into any of these kinds of situations.
Avoid any discussions about work or references to it on social media sites. We also recommend not revealing what you do for a living or the identity of your employer on social media sites. Even when you think it’s private, it often isn’t.
Most employers now have policies on social media and internet usage. Make sure you get a copy of yours. Read it. Understand it. Adhere to it. If in doubt, ask us.
If you find yourself in trouble because of remarks on social media, contact us immediately.