One issue that employers face more often these days is that of employees who badmouth their managers, clients, colleagues or the work environment in general, on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
A very thin one indeed, because just as individuals have a right to privacy, so do employers have the right to protect their business interests. Because of this, employees are not free to do and say what they like when they are away from work. Employees who, for instance, make derogatory remarks about their employers may be faced with legitimate disciplinary action. If the employer can prove that there is causal link between the employee’s conduct outside the work environment and the employer’s business interest, the employee’s conduct is no longer merely private but may lead to appropriate disciplinary measures. Although the list below is not exhaustive, the following are generally regarded as creating a sufficient link entitling employers to disciplinary action:
• The employee who made the negative remarks holds a position of trust in the employer’s business;
• An employee badmouths a client of the employer, with the result that the client takes (or threatens to take) its business elsewhere;
• The employee’s conduct created a serious breach of trust between the employee and the employer, or the employee’s colleagues; or
• The employee’s statements brought the company’s name into disrepute in the eyes of its customers or members of the public.
What employees communicate to the outside world, outside the work environment and outside working hours, is therefore not necessarily a purely private matter as many people believe the case to be.
For further information on any labour related matters, you can contact
W.Tel no.: 021 423 3959
Fax: 021 423 2105
Cell: 082 433 8714