Can you fire staff for social media slip-ups?

Can you fire staff for social media slip-ups?

From abusive messages to illicit images, social media is causing a growing number of problems for school leaders – and it’s not just from students.

Over the past few years, more and more teachers have found themselves in hot water thanks to their inappropriate online activity – but can you really fire someone for what they’ve done in the virtual world?

To put it bluntly, yes.

“Every school’s [social media] policy should state that breaches of the policy could result in disciplinary action, including dismissal,” says Nathan Croot, a senior associate with Emil Ford Lawyers.

“However, as with any disciplinary action, schools need to act lawfully when disciplining or dismissing an employee,” he adds.

So, what exactly constitutes unacceptable behaviour? 

According to Croot, this can vary greatly depending on each school’s policy but there are a number of things which are likely to be considered objectionable across the board.

“There are some obvious behaviours, such as criticising the school or other teachers and engaging in sexual misconduct with students, which are universally considered to be inappropriate,” he told The Educator.

“The more controversial issues relate to what teachers may post with their personal accounts. Some schools may not want their staff to post pictures of them drinking or to make comments which may be controversial or contrary to the school’s ethos.”