Social Media: Employees and the damage risk to your business!

We are all familiar with how the Arab spring was fanned by social media and how fast things can go “viral”.

If one of your employees makes derogatory comments about you or your business on, say,  Facebook, there is a strong possibility (obviously depending on the merits of the case – get proper advice before taking any action!) that labour courts and the CCMA (Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration) will uphold your decision to dismiss the employee. Globally, courts are coming to similar conclusions.

Employees: The dismissal danger

Employees often vent their frustrations on social media without realising the possible consequences – the danger is that you can irreparably damage relationships with your employer, leading to your dismissal. You could also find yourself facing a damages claim for defamation.

Employees are entitled to privacy but if you post a comment which you have not sought to keep amongst your network of friends, then the information is in the public domain and your employer could use it against you. Posting comments on your Facebook wall, for example, can be used against you.  Further, if you have a Facebook friend who happens to know your employer, then the friend might inform your employer of the content of the posting.

Employers: What you should do

You should put in place a policy which makes clear what is and what is not acceptable. This policy should also allow you to monitor what your employees say about you in the social media (it will also assist you in complying with the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-related Information Act (RICA)).

In terms of the common law the employee has to act in good faith, show loyalty to the employer and not bring the employer into disrepute. The employee cannot argue there was no policy to stop them making, for example, derogatory comments about you or your business.

If the employee has a grievance, they must take it up with the employer. Thus, it is sensible to have a grievance procedure or encourage staff to speak to you or their superiors if they have a gripe.

You don’t want the hassle and bad publicity of being bad-mouthed in the social media – make sure your staff are aware of the consequences and that you have policies in place to swiftly deal with any contraventions.  Finally, appoint one of your managers to monitor what staff are saying about you in the social media.

© DotNews, 2005-2013. This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.





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IC Marais

Professional experience:

IC Marais is a certified CA (SA) with public sector and private sector technical knowledge based on 5 years’ Public Sector accounting, auditing and financial management experience and 5 years audit, tax and accounting experience. Detailed knowledge of private and public sector accounting and auditing standards (GRAP, IPSAS, IFRS, IAS, ISA) and public sector financial legislation (MFMA, etc.)

He enjoys the outdoors, hunting and fishing.


Professional experience:

In 1995, Schalk started as a trainee at Warner and Newton (which became Moores Rowland in 1997 and then Mazars Moores Rowland in 2007) in Bloemfontein. In 1998, Schalk was appointed as manager at Moores Rowland, where he became a partner in 2003. Schalk received his Postgraduate Certificate in Advanced Taxation in 2006 and in 2009 he received his Certificate in the Administration of Estates.


Professional experience:

Cedric started as a trainee at Warner and Newton (which became Moores Rowland in 1997 and Mazars Moores Rowland in 2007), Bloemfontein, in 1986. After completion of his articles, he joined the Special Investigations Division of the Department of Finance (SA Revenue Services) as a senior inspector from 1990 to 1991.


Professional experience:

Lucha started her career as a tax inspector at the Inland Revenue Department of New Zealand. After this she worked in commerce in Canada, Mexico and the United States.

On her return to South Africa, she completed her CA training contract with us and has been with Newtons ever since. She became a Partner in 2012.

Apart from her CA(SA) qualification she also holds a postgraduate certificate in Advanced Taxation (2005) and has the overall responsibility for training as our Training Officer.