What to do if an Employee Acts Inappropriately on Social Media? Make sure your disciplinary procedures are followed correctly.
A recent case came to Tribunal when a man who was fired for sharing another butcher’s ‘meat deal’ on social media has won an employment tribunal against his former employer, a small, and well-respected butchers in Wigan. He had been employed for seven and a half years before he was dismissed for recommending a discount from another online fresh meat retailer to his then-girlfriend on Facebook.
He was subsequently dismissed for gross misconduct and breach of contract by the directors for ‘advertising’ what they believed to be a competitor and breaching the company’s social media policy. The tribunal heard the pair, whose business did not have a formal HR function, had already decided to dismiss Hayward before they brought him into a disciplinary meeting.
The employee said he was not issued a written or verbal formal warning, despite requesting one, nor was he given the opportunity to have someone with him at the meeting or given an explanation regarding his actions. As no appeal was arranged within a few weeks of his sacking, he eventually lost confidence in his employers and did not follow up the matter.
The tribunal also heard that the employee had been ‘pulled up’ on his use of social media before he posted the offer, but there was no warning given to him that suggested such behaviour could lead to his dismissal.
The Judge stated the employer’s suggestion it had experienced financial and reputational loss because of the Facebook post was “fanciful”. He believed the misdemeanour to be minor and awarded the claimant £6,091. This case reflects the importance of creating and following a full and fair disciplinary process before dismissing an employee for any reason.
Employers can take action to protect their business where employees overstep the mark outside of work on social media, however, you must make sure disciplinary allegations are properly drafted to fairly reflect any wrongdoing, there is a sufficient connection with their work and there are reasonable grounds to support summarily dismissing an employee for gross misconduct.
The employer later stated: “We would like to take this opportunity to urge other small-to-medium businesses to ensure that their HR team is doing their job properly and, if they do not have an HR team, to enlist the services of a professional HR consultancy for the protection of both employer and employee.”
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565332 to discuss how we may help you.
We can now provide on-site mentoring services designed to resolve workplace conflicts between employees who have previously worked well together. For further details email Ali Penney on email@example.com