Workplace privacy - tips to make sure social media snooping doesn't wreck your working life

19 July 2013
Workplace privacy and the law in the digital age were explored today at a Melbourne seminar hosted by top employment law firm Maurice Blackburn.

"With the rise of social media, the boundaries between work and private life are becoming more and more blurred," said Kamal Farouque, employment law principal.

"Many employers and workers themselves don't understand the legal framework applying to workplace privacy and the connection between online activity and the workplace," he said.

"Workers too don't appreciate that what they do online even outside work hours can impact on their current employment and their future employment prospects. We are seeing more people, particularly young people who are constantly connected to social media, finding themselves in hot water over what they do on online.

"Social media, blogging and other online activity if not done carefully can give an employer a window into every corner of your life.

"We have to ask ourselves, is it reasonable for the boss to snoop and find out what you did on the weekend with your friends via comments and photos. In posting those details do you want them to make subjective assessments about you and use it to assess you as an employee?

"Our laws need to catch up with this rapidly changing world and ensure that information gleaned from private sources is not used to disadvantage workers or leave them vulnerable in other ways," he said.

 

6 TIPS FOR EMPLOYEES USING SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. There's no general right to privacy in Australia when it comes to social media. Employers may be able to take disciplinary action against employees if your on-line activities have an impact on your employment eg if your comments destroy your working relationship with your co-workers.
  2. Be careful about bagging your boss, employer, clients or co-workers on social media, particularly when you have an "open" social media account or are "friends" with co-workers or clients.
  3. Check your privacy settings. Set them set at the highest possible level and avoid having your account accessible to the public at large.
  4. Be careful in "liking" or "re-tweeting" comments which have negative impact on your employer's reputation.
  5. Check to see if your employer has a policy regarding the use of social media.
  6. If you have open social media, think about how photos you post may be perceived by prospective employers checking up on you.

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