News & Events

Social media: Private life and work life collides again

By: Stephen Price and Allison Grant

Submitted by Firm:
Corrs Chambers Westgarth
Firm Contacts:
John Tuck
Article Type:
Legal Article

The debate about employees’ freedom of speech on social media made headlines last month when the Federal Circuit Court refused to make orders to prevent the dismissal of a public servant who anonymously made a number of critical comments on Twitter about the Government and its policies.

In ruling that there was no unfettered freedom of political expression, Justice Neville made it clear to public sector workers across Australia that anonymous venting on social media about the Government’s policies would be a breach of the APS Code of Conduct and departmental policies on social media use.

More broadly, this case reinforces for all workers that the divide between private and public life is unclear and will likely not become clearer in the short-term as new online technologies are introduced. As for employers implementing or reviewing their social media policies, they ought to turn their minds to just how far they need to intrude on workers’ privacy in order to protect their business interests.