The Australian Public Service Commission (APSC) has unwittingly unleashed a wave of debate about the amount of control employers have – and should have – over what their workforce posts on social media.
It released a statement updating its Code of Conduct around the usage of social media, and major media outlets were quick to publicise the apparent point that employees could be held liable for comments that other people write on their social pages.
“Doing nothing about objectionable material that someone else has posted on your page can reasonably be seen in some circumstances as your endorsement of that material,” the statement read.
“If someone does post material of this kind, it may be sensible to delete it or make it plain that you don’t agree with it or support it. Any breach of the code would not come from the person making the post. It would come from how you reacted to it.”
The statement also says that posting negative comments about a current employer or member of Parliament is also generally a no-no, and that including a statement saying that such views are solely your own “won’t always protect you from a finding that you have breached the code”.
It comes after a Brisbane law firm warned that social media posts are increasingly being used as part of compensation and employment matters.
Trent Johnson and Michael Coates of Bennett & Philp Lawyers identified a number of areas where social media is now being recognised, including the disclosure of sensitive business information, defamation, harassment and even false or misleading advertising, if social media posts are contradictory to what is claimed elsewhere.