Topic 4 – Can i get fired by what i post online? even when i’m off-duty?

pro and cons (2)

Pro and cons of social media creates a love-hate relationship for social media in the workplace. Companies start to watch the employee’s usage of social media both inside and outside company. Organizations struggle to keep pace with the evolving technology and employers find it difficult to balance the competing interests of an employee’s privacy against the employer’s security [1]. Creating awareness for labor law of social media and social media regulations.

Do you think you can get fired by what you post online?

Definitely yes. There is a law where company can’t fire you because of gender, race, religion, whistle blowing or nationality. Other than that? employer can fire you with any reason. [4][6]

possi

Regardless the heavy usage of social media in business world; 85% businesses have no policies for online behavior [3]. However, there are a number of people got sacked because of social media where the company doesn’t have any regulation regarding social media usage.

United States is a step forward in social media regulations. National Labor Relation Act protect individual’s right to post what they want. They are allowed to voice out their dissatisfaction towards their job, pay, or workload. US regulation also allow employee to create “friends-only” social media sites. However, not all work-related speech is protected. For example, your employer can still fire you if you post something negative about a client or customers on Facebook.[5]

Is it ethical to fire the employee when the organization never sets the toned neither policies regarding social media in the workplace? In my opinion it is not, unless the employee clearly states the name of the organization or create significant lost to the organization. I believe the US federation also think the same by giving freedom of speech.

It is time for the organization to create clear policies. The organization should make them involved in social media regulation to leverage the pro of social media. The regulation should not de-motivate the employee by being too strict, invade their privacy, or take away their freedom of speech. Few policies organization could consider:

  1. Give employees a breather and allow them to access social networking sites during their lunch break, before and after office hours.
  2. Educate and train staff as most employees are not aware how their actions online can cause security issues for the organization.
  3. Set security and usage policies. [use of the Internet at work, access to social networking sites and what they are allowed to say or do during office hours].

[407 words]

Reference:

[1] Naeger, Jennifer L. (2013) Effectively Managing Social Media In The Workplace. (9 November 2015)

[2] Contacos, Jonna & Lee, Albert. Social Media in the Workplace: legal, productivity, and legal issues. via YouTube (9 November 2015)

[3] Chang, Kabrina (2011). Kabrina Chang: Facebook Got Me Fired- Legal and Management Issues for Social Networking. via YouTube (9 November 2015)

[4] Pell, Nicholas. Fired for What You Post? (9 November 2015)

[5] Webb, Christine (2013). Can you be fired for complaining about your job on Facebook? (9 November 2015)

[6] HG.org. Can You Fire Someone For Their Social Media Complaints About Work? (9 November 2015)

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17 thoughts on “Topic 4 – Can i get fired by what i post online? even when i’m off-duty?

  1. Hey Silviana!

    I really liked your post because it brought across a different perspective towards the use of social media in organisations – that it might not always be the individuals’ fault. It takes two hands to clap in situations like these.

    I share the same sentiments for your insight that organisations have to play their part in establishing clear rules and regulations for employees to follow. If not, how would they know how to conduct their interacts online, and how can the organisation fairly assess if what they post are inappropriate or not?

    Everyone does deserve freedom of speech, but do you think that even though you may not explicitly include the name of your company or customers in your post, it might still reflect badly on you? What do you think? I think the only way to avoid this is to create a “friends only” social media account (like you mentioned), but this may bring back the concept of conflicting multiple identities online. After all, all activities that you participate online may be traced back to you.

    I would like to know your thoughts! Cheers 🙂

    Like

    • Hi Nicole 🙂
      If the post contain sexist or racism. It is bad. However, if i complain about my employer. Is it bad? Will I get fired if I work in Singapore firm?
      Like what I mentioned above, US now allow the employee to complain about the employer. This article also highlight what’s covered and not covered in United States labour law http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2013/02/05/ten-things-your-boss-doesnt-want-you-to-know/
      In Singapore, there had been several cases where employer fired the employee because of the online behaviour (eg. Bello, Tan Tock Seng Hospital) but we can’t really see any enforcement regarding social media regulation in the workplace.
      During writing this post, I try to search for Singapore’s regulation but I can’t find significant information. It makes me worry as we are stepping into professional life soon and I don’t want to fall to this pitfall.
      Regarding “friends only” social media, i don’t it is efficient. In my opinion, one identity by integrating all my social media account will gain me much more benefit then dividing it into professional life and work life.
      That’s my thought, what’s yours? Also, do you have any information regarding Singapore’s labour law that you can share with me?

      Like

      • HI Silviana,

        I couldn’t really find any information from the SIngapore Labour Act about social media but i did find this bit of research on the Singapore Media Literacy Counsil’s website which says that “sections 298 and 298A of the Penal Code impose fines and imprisonment penalties for words — which include online postings — that are intended to wound the religious or racial feelings of another individual or to promote feelings of ill-will between different religious and racial groups in Singapore.”

        This means that if any employee in Singapore is caught posting racist or religiously insensitive comments, there will be serious consequences.

        You can access the website here:
        http://www.medialiteracycouncil.sg/media-and-internet/Pages/understanding-the-law.aspx#sthash.XuNktIsA.dpuf

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Silviana,

    I agree with you that companies are starting to look into employees’ social media to check out on them to see if there are any inappropriate content that might affect the company’s reputation. It is good for organization to come up with clear policies, at the same time, still giving their employees the freedom to post content that are unrelated to work online.

    I do believe that people can get fired because of what you posted online. It is true that everyone has a freedom of speech. However, what if people post some negative comments online because they are unhappy with their work environment? Well, even if he does not put the organization’s name, his friends would know where he is working at and might not have a good impression of the organization after viewing his comment. Positive word-of-mouth is the best way of advertising. It does have the power to create a negative impact on an organization too.

    Thank you!

    Like

    • Hi Pearlyn, thanks for your comment
      By keeping employee’s mouth shut. It might be good for the employer. But i don’t think it is good for employer. For example, there is sexual harassment by the employer, if employee can’t voice out. Who will help the employee? and the employer can easily get away without any consequences.

      Like

  3. Hello Silvania,

    With regards to “Is it ethical for firms to fire employees when the organisation did not set policies regarding social media in the workplace,” I thought it was very thought provoking.

    Personally, I believe that when an employee decides to bring his unhappiness about the workplace (e.g. tweeting negatively about the company, co-workers or job) onto social media, it indicates that he has the intention of sharing it with others online.

    Moreover, according to research, 36% of Millennials believe that ‘befriending’ a client or customer on social networks is acceptable. Even if the name of the organisation was not being mentioned, your friends (which may include clients) will be aware of the company you were referring to. What will they think of you, being a representative the company and the company itself?

    Thus, I believe that it is ethical to a certain extent. Uploading confidential information and commenting negatively about your company is definitely not ethical. One should understand that there will be consequences and hence, should be responsible for his own actions. On the other hand, it is also not ethical to fire employees when there are no policies regarding social media in the workplace. Both parties are at fault.

    What do you think? 🙂

    Cheers,
    Constance

    Like

    • Hi constance. Yup i agree it is not ethical to fire employees when there are no policies regarding social media in the workplace. That’s why company should set a clear agreement and policies regarding this from the recruitment process, selection, training, and development.

      Like

  4. Hi Silviana,

    A very interesting and thorough research done – good job! Unlike United States, Singapore has yet to come up with a regulation to allow employees to create “friends-only” social media sites.

    Usually, Singaporeans would either protect their social media accounts from the eyes of the company, or create another account for work purposes – leading to multiple identities. Currently, legal action will only take place in Singapore if one posts religion-sensitive, race-sensitive, defamation, or violent information on social media.

    Even if someone deleted the “negative” post on his/her social media account, it will still be permanently stored in the cloud and will still be seen by the company if checked.

    So do you think its better for Singapore to follow suit and implement the “friends-only” social media regulation in the future? Or it is better for people to have “multiple identities” to hide their “true selves” anonymously?

    I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂 Cheers.

    Source about Singapore law: http://www.lawgazette.com.sg/2011-06/131.htm

    Like

    • hi HuiMin, thanks for the insight regarding Singapore law
      Now i understand Singapore have a clear law regarding social media behaviour towards race, religion, defamation, and violent information.
      Honestly i don’t think “friends-only” social media is effective. Eventhough the employer allow it. I will still choose to integrate my social media account to create a big pool of connection and having one identity.

      Like

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  6. YS says:

    Hi Silviana,
    Thank you for your valuable insights of the current regulations that protect employees from grievances or unfair treatment. Indeed, no one should be fired because of gender, race or other demographical characteristics. Yet on the other hand, we see the blurred line between balancing our professional and social profile online due to the viral nature of the virtual space. Comments we made on our personal profile may affect the company’s reputation and also our career development.

    And yes, I agree that it will be unethical to fire employees when the organization never set the tone in social media policies. However, security and usage policies may impact the employees adversely in terms of flexibility in workplace. Education of social media management may be a better mean to convey the responsibilities of each individual to the online organization reputation and at the same time, providing their deserved freedom of speech.

    Like

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