Expert Comment: The Rugby Champion Saga

Expert Comment: The Rugby Champion Saga

10/05/2019
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Organisations need to be clear and unambiguous when it comes to workplace policies, especially in regards to Social Media.

Speaking on the current matter of Rugby Australia and Israel Folau, iHR Australia’s Director of Workplace Relations John Boardman noted that “Although it’s a case by case basis, ultimately discipline of any sort may be conditional on the employment contract agreement.”

Although it’s argued that in the case of Israel Folau, where the media profile may imply certain obligations, Mr Boardman affirms that organisations still need to refer to their policies, code of conduct and contracts which governs the employee’s employment.

“It needs to be determined to what, if anything, has been breached. If the behaviour is found to be a breach then there also needs to be careful consideration as to what action management should be taken against the person to ensure that it is not unfair or harsh.”

61% of respondents to a recent survey undertaken by iHR Australia agreed that organisations have the right, legally or ethically, to take action in cases where an employee’s personal social media postings compromise the organisation’s ethical or commercial position.

With the case yet to be tested by the courts, iHR Australia Senior Workplace Relations Adviser, Dr Verena Marshall noted, “While everybody is entitled to their beliefs, employees cannot impose their beliefs in a manner that disrupts other employees’ ability to feel comfortable in doing their job and subsequent quality of their working life.”

“As well as the employment contract, employees have a ‘psychological contract’ with the organisation. In fulfillment of that contract, employees are obliged to work in a team and honour their colleagues’ mutual strengths and differences. The organisation has a duty of care to protect all employees in making this happen.”

iHR Australia strongly advocates the need for organisations to have clear and relevant policies in regards to social media use and regular training for employees around policy expectations.

iHR Australia’s eLearning program “Responsible Use of Social Media” is available and can be customised to match your organisations requirements and policies. Enquire now for more information.

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