The Guardian reported last week that eleven civil servants in the Department for Work and Pensions have lost their jobs in the last couple of years because of their interaction with social media and blogs at work.
The information emerged last week after a Freedom of Information request had been made to the Department for Work and Pensiosn, headed up by Iain Duncan Smith. The DWP confirmed that since January 2009 116 civil servants and employees have been disciplined for use of blogs and social media. Of these 116 staff, 34 were given a final written warning, 35 received a written warning, and 36 were given a formal verbal warning. 11 staff, as above, were dismissed (presumably for gross misconduct, which allows an employer to dismiss an employee without notice). These disciplinaries were conducted (the DWP stated) in line with their disciplinary policies and procedures and that use of Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites was completely banned at work.
However, a right-leaning think tank (Parliament Street) yesterday criticised the reaction of the DWP to the use of social media at work, stating that such action “beggars belief” and that staff should be empowered and encouraged to use social media responsibly.
It is not currently known whether any of the fired civil servants are currently pursuing an unfair dismissal claim in the Employment Tribunal.
Have you been unfairly dismissed because of your use of social media?
If you are currently being subjected to a disciplinary or have already been dismissed from your employment then you may be entitled to submit an unfair dismissal claim to the Employment Tribunal. In order to do so you must have been employed for at least one year (two years if you commenced employment on or after 6 April 2012) and you must have had a contract of employment with your employer. If you fulfil these criteria then your employer has an obligation to carry out a fair procedure if you are dismissed and also has an obligation to make a reasonable decision to dismiss. If your employer fails to fulfil either or both of these criteria then you may have good prospects for success in an Employment Tribunal claim for unfair dismissal.