Social Media and Your Employment: How to Avoid Disciplinary Action – Part 2

Social Media at Work

In part 2 of this article we provide four more tips to help you navigate your social media use, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn or TikTok, without getting yourself into trouble at work.

Unfortunately, what you post, comment or share on social media can have an impact on your employment and can lead to your employer taking disciplinary action against you, including terminating your employment.

Here are tips numbered 5 to 8.  You can see our first four tips here.

1. Don’t access your social media on equipment supplied by your employer.

You may have been provided with a mobile phone, tablet, computer or laptop by your employer for work purposes that can be used for personal reasons, including accessing your social media.
Despite being able to use your work equipment or devices, you need to keep in mind that your employer can monitor your web traffic on their network and/or your use of their equipment.

Also, another way employers have become aware of a person’s conduct on social media is by employees not logging out of their social media accounts. Majority of the social media platforms allows the program to remember your login details, which is a convenient tool as you don’t have to login every time you access your social media accounts. However, your employer has the right to access your work computer or device as it is their property. If you have remained logged in to your social media, your employer may be able to view your social media activity.

The best way to avoid disciplinary action is to not use the devices provided by your employer to access your social media.

Also, the accessing of your personal social media accounts using work supplied equipment could be in breach of your employer’s policies. So, make sure that you familiarise yourself with those policies.

2. Don’t post on social media if you’re having a ‘sickie’.

Another good tip is don’t post on your social media, or be tagged in a post, that shows you having them time of your life when you have taken a ‘sick day’.

The purpose of personal/carer’s leave is for when you, an immediate family member or a member of your household is sick or injured. So, if your employer becomes aware that you weren’t actually ‘sick’ or ‘injured’ by observing through your social media that you were somewhere having a good time when you had called in sick, then your employer may take disciplinary action against you due to the personal/carer’s leave not being genuine.

3. Don’t access your social media during work hours, unless it is actually part of your job.

Depending on the type of job you have, you may be required to access and use social media. However, if your role doesn’t actually require you to use social media, we suggest that you don’t access your personal social media during work hours.

Accessing your personal social media during work hours is not considered to be ‘work’ and such conduct may be in breach of your employer’s policies, which could lead to you being subject to disciplinary action.

4. Don’t send your work colleagues pornographic material through your social media, or at all!

The Fair Work Commission has found that the sending of pornographic material to other employees through social media outside of work hours is a valid reason for terminating a person’s employment.

The forwarding of pornographic material to your work colleagues through your social media or by other means can be considered as a connection to your employment, especially if the recipient finds the material to be offensive or they feel that they are being sexually harassed.

Keep in mind that if you engage in conduct towards another employee that is outside the workplace, which materially affects or has the potential to materially affect a person’s employment, including the sending of offensive material, then this is something that may draw your employer’s attention, be in breach of your employer’s policies, be considered potential sexual harassment, and result in disciplinary action being taken against you.

If you have any questions or require advice in relation to social media and your employment, please contact Anderson Gray Lawyers on 1300 851 430 to speak with one of our employment lawyers.