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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 47902
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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My son was called in to his managers office as he joined

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Hello My son was called in to his managers office as he joined in with a ' private' conversation on Facebook about another Staff Member. One of the people in the 'private' conversation printed it off and showed it to the Staff Member concerned. The manager was informed and after calling my son in to the office, explained to my son that an investigation was going to be conducted. He heard nothing for 6 weeks and he has now been notified that the Manager wants to see him regarding the investigation. My question is can he be given a disciplinary over this or worse dismissed and should this have been dealt with soon than 6 weeks from the original meeting?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today. How long has he worked there for?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Just under 4 years
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thanks I will respond later this afternoon as I am in tribunal at present
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok thank you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thanks, ***** ***** to get some time now. If someone is accused of possible misconduct then the employer is expected to follow their own disciplinary policy, which must satisfy the ACAS Code of Conduct. The Code states that it should happen "without unreasonable delay" so it really needs to be conducted as quickly as is reasonably possible. 6 weeks can certainly be an unreasonable delay but it would depend on the circumstances. If the employer sat all this time and did nothing, that would be unreasonable. However, if the delay was because certain witnesses were unavailable or other reasons beyond the employer’s control, then a delay could be justified. So the context of the delay is important. As such, the mere fact there was a delay will not automatically be reasons to challenge any action taken by the employer, but if it was delayed unreasonably, then it can indeed be used. This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the law on social media posts that can result in misconduct, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there I no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you
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Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.
Thank you. Whether or not an employer can take disciplinary action or even dismiss an employee as a result of their activity on social media is a tricky issue. A balance must be struck between an employee's right to private life and the employer's right to not only protect its business and reputation but also its employees. Employers should only take formal action against an employee's use of social networking websites where there are valid concerns about this having a detrimental effect on the business, including any adverse effect on other employees. Common examples can include:{C}· Comments that can amount to bullying or harassment of other employees{C}· Complaints about the employer that can bring the business into disrepute or affect its reputation{C}· Serious breach of commercial confidentiality. It is also important to consider the potential readership of these comments, for example how public they were made. If the settings were private and only a limited number of people not related to the business could read them, then the seriousness of the offence may not be great. Similarly, if there was no way of identifying the employer from the comments or from your personal information, it would be difficult for the employer to argue there was damage done to its reputation. Some useful pointers in deciding the fairness of disciplinary action taken by an employer include:{C}· {C}The nature of the comments and how offensive they are{C}· {C}Whether the comments are made on a purely personal social media account{C}· {C}Whether privacy restrictions are in use so that only friends can see it{C}· {C}Whether there is anything on the employee’s profile or in any of the comments to link them to the employer{C}· {C}Whether the comments say anything derogatory about the employer or its customers and employees{C}· {C}Whether the comments are posted in an employee’s own time or in work time{C}· {C}Whether the employee uses his own equipment or the employer’s{C}· {C}Whether the disciplinary rules make it clear what sort of misuse of social media gives grounds for disciplinary action. If the comments concerned another member of staff and that person saw them or another employee took offence, disciplinary action can be justified although the punishment would need to be determined in line with established employment law principles. These would include examining the nature of the comments and how serious they were (e.g. racist, sexist or other seriously offensive comments could justify dismissal), the employee’s disciplinary record and length of service (the longer one has worked there and if their disciplinary record is clean, the more an employer should think about issuing a warning rather than dismissing). In summary, it is entirely possible for disciplinary action to be taken in the circumstances but the outcome needs to be carefully considered taking into account the nature of the comments, the context in which they were made and how they have affected the business and/or other employees.