Social Media and Data Privacy in Australia

1. Can the employer restrict the employee’s use of Internet and social media during working hours?

The general position is that an employer can monitor its employees’ usage of work computers (in some states legislation requires specific notices and warnings to employees before allowing computer monitoring) and restrict the use of the Internet and social media during work hours.

2. Employee’s use of social media to disparage the employer or divulge confidential information

The ability of an employer to take such action is typically addressed in the contract of employment, however, it is best for an employer to also have a detailed policy which deals with these matters, including the employer’s expectations around internet and social media use, both during and outside of work hours. There are, however, limitations on the extent to which an employee’s conduct on social media could provide a valid reason for their termination. This will depend, in part, on the nature of the comments and statements made and the width of their publication.

For more information on these articles or any other issues involving labour and employment matters in Australia, please contact Michael Harmer, Partner at Harmers Workplace Lawyers ( at
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