It was reported in the Herald that a food inspector has been awarded a £30,000 payout having been sacked over a facebook “like”.
I am sure it is not as simple as reported in the headlines, but it does, again, raise the issue of the connection between the social media platforms and employment.
Reading through the report, the issue seems in this case to be that their social media policy was one which focuses on the use of social media whilst at work, and the higher than normal payout would reflect amongst other things, processes followed, or not followed (the average unfair dismissal compensation to the year ended 31st March 2014 was £11,813). Getting these things right will limit both the chance of being taken to an Employment Tribunal, and even if the claim is successful, it will limit the compensation awarded.
I, on a personal level, have mixed feelings about the use of social media, and how this affects the employment relationship. Take, for example, the Scottish referendum, as a business owner, I had to be very careful not to alienate half of the population of Scotland (and potential customers) by advertising my personal views on Independence on social media sites. However, as a Scottish citizen, where better to enter the debate?
What many forget, is how comments on social media can go viral very quickly, even if you keep your profile private, commenting on other posts start to become visible, and the whole principal around Twitter is to get your message out there. So even though you may think that conversations and “likes” on social media are personal, and akin to a chat amongst friends in the pub, it’s more like taking a spot at Speakers’ Corner, and shouting out your opinions.
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