How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask JGM Your Own Question
JGM, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 12193
Experience:  30 years as a practising solicitor.
Type Your Law Question Here...
JGM is online now

Can an employer legally prevent employees from discussing work

This answer was rated:

Can an employer legally prevent employees from discussing work related terms and conditions, in particular rest breaks, amongst each other on Social Media in England? A group of us discussed 'rest breaks' in a private group on Facebook in that we felt that the arrangement may not meet the European Working Time Directive on rest break entitlements. Our employers were 'leaked' a copy of the discussion (public service employer) and we all (ten of us) have fact finding interviews possibly leading to disciplinary action. Can they legally prevent us from discussing such an issue, particularly in light of Articles 10 and 11 of the European Human Rights Act? All of the things discussed have been brought up publically on the internet and in the press by Trade Unions recently already. I have looked for tribunal cases but all seem to relate to offensive or defamatory comments rather than this sort of discussion.
Thank you for your question.
Have any of you done anything which breaches your contracts of employment? If not, they can't stop you discussing it. An employee is always entitled to discuss whether his or her employer is complying with the law. Unless you are contractually prevented from discussing your contract with fellow employees, the employer should not be fact finding and threatening disciplinary procedures.
I hope this helps.
Please leave a positive response so that I am credited for my time.
JGM and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

One or two of those in the message thread did use some offensive language towards the employer. I have no doubt that they will have some sort of disciplinary action taken against them as that is clearly a breach of contract.

My comments and most others in the thread were simply in relation to the working time directive and how we perceived that our rest break entitlements did not meet those laid down in the EWT. They were polite, non-threatening, not offensive and gave away no confidential information yet we all (not just those who used offensive language) have these fact finding meetings.

Your answer has definitely helped me relax. I may get a better nights sleep tonight but there is still this niggling feeling of concern.... but I guess that is what the employer wants.

Would they be able to take any action against us for just being in the general conversation, despite not breaking their rules in terms of being professional, not using offensive language etc? After all we cannot control what other people write on social networking sites.

Thanks for your response. I don't think that you've done anything wrong but you would be better to distance yourself from those who are being abusive. You don't want to prejudice your position by way of association with those who are less subtle in their approach.
Whether it's online or holding placards in a public place, you have to be careful about any group protests, meetings or discussions concerning your employer.