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What to do if an employee is damaging your business

What to do if an employee is damaging your business

What to do if an employee is damaging your business

Monday 10 February, 2020

There’s been a lot in the news recently about the brand damage that the Royal Family has suffered through recent actions by some of its members. The fact that those damaging the brand are family members makes it harder to take decisive action. But what can a business do if an employee damages its brand?

Many employees think that they can do whatever they want after work, but if a connection can be made between the employer and bad behaviour outside of work hours, the employee might be at risk of getting fired. Employers can’t dismiss employees just because they don’t like their out-of-work behaviour but can if it impacts the employer or the job. Employees can’t bring their employers into disrepute just because they’re off the clock.

If you’re worried that your business or organisation’s interests could be damaged through employee misconduct, you should make sure that employees know that they have to meet certain standards. It’s a good idea to put a clause in all employment agreements making it clear that the employer can dismiss employees for conduct outside work if it brings the employer into disrepute.

Social media can be a particularly thorny issue for many employers. In early January, a Canadian employee was fired after complaining on twitter about the Christmas present he had received from his employer. In a well-known New Zealand case, an employee was dismissed for liking derogatory posts about her employer.[1]

Employers need to have a clear social media policy setting out what employees can and can’t say about their employer. Some employers take the straight-forward approach of banning employees from any social media commentary on their employer. However, other employers may value the wider marketing reach they gain from utilising their employees’ social media networks, so their policies may only prevent critical or derogatory commentary. This approach might require the employer to provide training or guidelines to employees to help them comply with the policy.

Whatever stance your business takes, you need to have clear policies which you communicate to employees and enforce consistently. If you want assistance with drafting or reviewing policies, our Employment Team are happy to help.

Blylevens v Kidicorp Ltd 01 October 2014 [2014] NZERA Auckland 398

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