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Tweeting about bad day at work could get you fired

February 19, 2012 - London

Employees who tweet or update their Facebook status saying "I had a bad day at work" could end up losing their jobs, a leading employment lawyer has claimed.

According to Paula Whelan, an employment partner at Shakespeare's law firm, if an employee writes anything vaguely negative about their employer, including saying something as neutral as 'I had a bad day at work', bosses are well within their legal rights to sack the staff member.

"Employees think they are bullet-proof when they post anything on Facebook or Twitter. But if they bring their employer into disrepute, the boss of that firm is well within their legal right to sack them," the Telegraph quoted Whelan as saying.

"By posting something even vaguely negative about your work on these social media sites, it's breaking the relationship of trust and confidence between the employer and employee and the company reserves the right to sack the employee," she said.

According to Whelan and other lawyers, how bosses control the use of social media by their staff and utilise it to judge job candidates, is one of the biggest legal employment issues currently on the agenda.

Right now, companies are also well within their legal rights to sack a staff member over something they said referencing their job on their Facebook page, even if their privacy settings mean the world wide web cannot see their updates.

It still equally remains a grey area as to what type of comment on social media constitutes "bringing a company into disrepute".

Somebody writing "I had a bad day at work", and that person's job being publicly available via a search on LinkedIn, could get somebody in trouble with their company, resulting in them losing their job, according to Whelan, as it could make the firm concerned look like a bad place to work.

In January 2012, John Flexman, a human resources executive was forced out of his job after angering his employer by putting his CV online and advertising that he was interested in other "career opportunities", a tribunal heard.

He is thought to be the first person in the country to bring a case for constructive dismissal after a dispute with bosses over his profile on the professional networking site LinkedIn.

Last year David Rowat, a father-of-three who has cancer, was sacked by Argos after complaining about his job on Facebook.

He was fired for gross misconduct after complaining about work on the social networking website after he arrived from a two-week holiday.

After Rowat went back to work after the holiday, he said that "the deliveries hadn't been done and the place was a bit of a tip".

"Had a great day back at work after my hols who am I kidding!!" he wrote on Facebook.

"Back to the shambles that is work," he said.

An Argos spokesman commented on the firing of Rowat.

"We take matters of this nature extremely seriously and have arrived at this course of action after an extensive internal investigation that involved multiple factors and events," the spokesman said.


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