Restrictions in the Workplace
It is common practice to regulate employees’ use of Internet and social media through provisions of an Internet Policy. This policy must however, be established respecting employees’ privacy with regard to the control of electronic communications networks.
Can the employer monitor, access, review the employee’s electronic communications?
Subject to compliance with legal, regulatory and contractual provisions, employers are free to determine the conditions in which the employment contract is to be performed. Nowadays, it is undisputed that this includes the conditions of use of equipment made available to employees by the employer. Employers can therefore freely regulate the use of communication instruments within their company, particularly by prohibiting private use of the communication equipment available for use by the employees, by banning the access to certain websites (including social media sites) or by blocking this access by the use of filters.
Employee’s Use of Social Media to Disparage the Employer or Divulge Confidential Information
An employee who disparages the employer via social media can be dismissed for serious cause when the statutory requirements are met. However, as always in case of serious case, the precise circumstances and the possible aggravating or alleviating circumstances should be taken into account. Furthermore, it is advisable to adopt clear guidelines in the company with rules on who can speak on behalf of the company via social media, both for professional and personal accounts, and what types of information may be divulged. Recent case law accepts as evidence of serious grounds for dismissal, the information present on public profiles, as well as some private profiles, where the confidentiality parameters allow the access of posts to an important number of friends and / or colleagues.