What if your employee refuses to sign the social media policy?

Anna Ford

The above question was answered in the case of Malcolm Pearson v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd [2014] FWC 446.

In that case, over a period just short of 12 months the employee was issued with a series of warnings, both written and verbal, for breaches of company policies. One of the warnings was for refusing to sign the company social media policy.

On 21 May 2013, the employer terminated the employee for repeated failure to comply with company policies and procedures. The employee filed an unfair dismissal claim.

The employee argued, among other things, that he was justified in refusing to sign the social media policy because it applied outside work hours, and his employer did not pay or control him outside work hours, and therefore the employer could not tell him what to do or say outside of work.

The Fair Work Commission responded to that argument by endorsing the social media policy and its application outside working hours:

“…in the employment context the establishment of a social media policy is clearly a legitimate exercise in acting to protect the reputation and security of a business. It also serves a useful purpose by making clear to employees what is expected of them. Gone is the time (if it ever existed) where an employee might claim posts on social media are intended to be for private consumption only”

TAKE HOME:

  1. An employer can direct its employees to acknowledge receipt of and their understanding of company policies generally; and
  2. The application of social media policies to employee conduct outside working hours is endorsed by the Fair Work Commission.

If you need further advice on social media policies in your workplace please contact our experienced lawyer:

Anna Ford, Senior Associate
Phone: +61 2 9895 9233
Email:
aford@colemangreig.com.au