Common Issues in Your Workplace: Is there Really Freedom of Speech in Social Media?

Social Media in ChristchurchNot a week passes that an office management does not get complaints about an employee’s comments on social media sites. The employees usually defend their manner by saying that they were not at the workplace when they posted that or that they have the freedom to do so. However, is this justification valid even when you get the assistance of employment dispute services?

The Right to Free Speech

Just late last year, the New Zealand government passed the new Harmful Digital Communication act targeting online bullying. The government wanted to address negative online commentaries despite the upheaval this proclamation brought. The public now sees it as a violation of their ‘freedom of speech’. Nevertheless, the Parliament explained that this would lower the amount of youth suicide caused by cyberbullying.

The Application of the Law in Workspaces

Social Baker, a social media monitoring company, calculates that roughly 2,279,540 Kiwis are on Facebook. Mostly every adult Kiwi is using this medium that usually intertwines their professional and personal identities – and this is where the issue kicks in. This is why most lawyers suggest keeping your professional and private life separate for the problem starts when their colleagues are their ‘friends’. The issue might not directly relate to the law, but it still affects your work, nevertheless.

Legal problems occur when an individual remarks anything work-related on their personal page and forgets that they are friends with their coworkers. It can vary from an employee calling customers ‘a basket case’ or a staff commenting about his boss’ ‘useless presence’.

Moreover, sharing information about your life outside work can put you in jeopardy and you might risk your colleagues’ confidence in you. For instance, if you post too much of your binge drinking and work as a driver, your workmates might not see you fit for your job and report you.

The employer can easily prevent such issues from happening by revisiting their company policy and implementing a more detailed program. A constant reminder to the employees can also benefit both parties to prevent any disputes from happening.