Plant v API Microelectronics Limited – the purpose of a social media policy

In light of a recent case, Plant v API Microelectronics Limited, it is clear that employees are increasingly facing disciplinary sanctions for committing what they thought was discreet misconduct on social media.

As is typical for this type of tribunal, API’s social media policy, introduced in 2015, is solid and informative. It clearly outlines what behavior on social media will not be tolerated, such as mentioning business-related topics including that which could damage the reputation of API, and consequently customer and supplier relationships. By introducing such a comprehensive policy with clear boundaries and consequences of serious breaches of the policy, employees are unable to ruin the company’s reputation through a social media rant, whether they had privacy settings on or not.

Upon hearing that API was considering relocating a factory, Mrs Plant took to social media with posts that were thought to be upsetting other API employees. It was these posts that provided grounding for API’s claim that Mrs Plant was breaching the company’s social media policy, and would be consequently summarily dismissed.  Â

Mrs Plant took to the employment tribunal complaining that the dismissal was disproportionate and unfair. It was because of API’s strong and clear social media policy that this was dismissed, even though Mrs Plant had been a reliable and good worker for 17 years.

This case is one of many that illustrates that, with the correctly worded and most informative social media policy, any company is able to protect its reputation from employees who use the power of social media against them.Â

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