When social media puts your employment at risk

Social media is the fastest growing communication tool, with individuals, businesses, lobby groups and governments all holding social media accounts.

It’s undoubtedly a quick and convenient way to stay in touch with friends and family and keep on top of the lastest news and media, but it does have its downsides.

Letting off steam about work on social media is likely to get you into trouble. Talking about your colleagues, managers or workplace on social media is not appropriate. Neither is divulging commercially sensitive information or breaching confidentiality or others’ privacy.

Arguments that you’re on your own time and “just chatting with friends” don’t fly with the regulators. Employees can and do get sacked for posting these things on social media, and the Fair Work Commission has upheld employers’ rights to do so. Once you’ve posted something on social media, it’s in the public domain and easy to access, even by people that you’re not connected with. Google searches can produce a full list of most comments about an employer just by entering the organisation’s name.

‍This could lead to disciplinary action if it’s proved that you breached a code of conduct, constituting a warning or potential dismissal.

Remember, corporations take their public image and reputation very seriously and spend a lot of money on consultants and media messages to control they way they’re perceived. They don’t take kindly to employees upsetting the apple cart with unauthorised comments about what goes on behind the scenes, especially if it’s unflattering.

Employers also use social media to screen prospective job applicants. You may scrub up well for the interview, but if there are photos of you doing things your potential employer may consider “inappropriate”, you may not make the best impression.

Tips for work-safe social media use:

  • Don’t share confidential information about your employer
  • Make sure your privacy settings set to friends or followers only
  • Be careful about who you add as a friend or allow to follow you
  • Don’t misrepresent your employer
  • Don’t tell unflattering truths about your employer
  • Don’t name your employer or any employees in your posts
  • Don’t make personal attacks or post negative comments about your employer or colleagues
  • Don’t list your employer on your profile
  • Think before you post

Remember, HACSUassist offers support and guidance for HACSU members and all calls are confidential. Just call 1300 880 032.