Social media is here to stay. With a smart phone in our pocket we can cheerfully tweet, share and What’sApp away. Throughout the day. Even in the boss’ time. We should be able to, right? The boss also asks us to link up with commercial business relations and to send commercial tweets. So why should private use of social media during working hours be an issue?
The boundaries between work and private life have long since blurred. With the rise in popularity of social media, this has even happened at lightning speed. Question is though, whether employers and employees are sufficiently aware of the impact of the use of social media. If a person has only ever posted a crazy ‘selfie’ on the internet once, a potential employer could still easily Google this person and see this picture before a job interview. And what about the employee who – after an argument at work – calls his employer names on Facebook, but has forgotten that he also has colleagues as his “friends”? Or even the other way around: an employer cannot be surprised nowadays if his employee calls in sick through WhatsApp or that he has linked up with the employer’s business relations through LinkedIn after his dismissal.
A few years ago we hadn’t yet heard of any case law on such incidents, but gradually there are more and more court rulings in which social media play a role. In the now famous “Blokker ruling” an employee, who had railed against his boss on Facebook, was dismissed without any compensation. A sick notification through WhatsApp has already been accepted by the courts. On the other hand, linking to a former employer’s business relations is deemed to be a violation of the non-compete clause.
Social media certainly pushes boundaries, but obviously they can’t be used in unlimited and rash manner within the employment relationship. Common sense helps. The implementation of a social media protocol is better though. For an employer it is highly recommended to set clear rules on how to use social media in the workplace, but also to uphold these rules. That is the only way in which an employer can influence the use of social media by its employees.
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