Help! Is my after hours behaviour a workplace issue?

03 November 2017

With the end of year celebrations almost upon us, it is important to be mindful of whether your behaviour as an employee outside of work can affect your relationship with your employer and your employment. Planning for Melbourne Cup and Christmas parties is well underway, so employees must remember that a drunken tweet or merry social media posting may have serious consequences for all concerned. Employers should also be aware of when it is appropriate to take disciplinary action against their employees for their conduct after hours and the consequences if their employees' behaviour is ignored.  

End of Year Functions

An employer can take disciplinary action against an employee where there is a connection between the misconduct which occurs out of hours and the employee’s employment. For example, an employee who behaves inappropriately at a work Christmas party can face disciplinary action by their employer. Equally, an employer can be held vicariously liable for their employer’s after hours misconduct such as sexual harassment and discrimination, unless an employer can clearly show they have taken reasonable steps to prevent this from occurring. 

Social Media

Comments made by an employee on social media after hours can also warrant disciplinary action by their employer. This will usually be the case where an employee’s comments concern issues of bullying, discrimination or sexual harassment. Employees should be mindful that comments they make on social media can be damaging to their employer’s reputation which may be grounds for termination should the comments irreparably damage the employer/employee relationship.

If you have any concerns about the above as an employer or an employee, please contact our employment law team who will be more than happy to assist.   

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John Sneddon, Partner: (07) 3307 4504 or jsneddon@shandtaylor.com.au

Kimberley Forman, Senior Associate: (07) 3307 4523 or kforman@shandtaylor.com.au

Ruby Nielsen, Lawyer: (07) 3307 4551 or rnielsen@shandtaylor.com.au

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