Employer going way too far

February 5th, 2011 at 4:41 pm by David Farrar

The Australian reports:

THE Commonwealth Bank has threatened its employees with disciplinary action, including dismissal, if they do not report criticism of the bank made by others on social media channels, including .

The Finance Sector Union yesterday demanded the suspension of the bank’s new social media policy, accusing it of trying to restrict freedom of expression.

Bank employees have been told they must immediately notify their manager if they become aware of “inappropriate or disparaging content and information stored or posted by others”, including non-employees, in the “social media environment”.

It says the content may damage the bank and its reputation.

“For example, your friend could post an inappropriate comment about the group on your Facebook page or create a blog about the group,” the policy says.

As well as notifying their manager, employees must assist the bank with any investigation into the material, and its removal.

This goes way way too far, and on this issue I’m all with the union. You absolutely should not slag your employer off on Facebook, but you have no duty at all to report online criticisms of your employer to them. Employees are not the Internet Police in their spare time.

I mean it really is so stupid to be almost laugable – requiring you to nark on your friends if they criticise your employer online.

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28 Responses to “Employer going way too far”

  1. Michael (880 comments) says:

    I imagine National Party staff are a little relieved this doesn’t apply to them – imagine having to report every negative remark that is made about John Key on Social Media. However, it wouldn’t effect Labour Party staff…

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  2. DJP6-25 (1,229 comments) says:

    These guys are stupid enough to qualify as Socialists.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  3. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    DJP6-25 (277) Says:

    February 5th, 2011 at 4:57 pm
    These guys are stupid enough to qualify as Socialists.

    Just what is socialist about this behaviour?

    They are acting far more like what they truly are, corporate thugs, and should be treated as such.

    Here’s another case of the stupidity the world has been led in to by “Human Resources” nincomfuckingpoops.

    http://www.theage.com.au/technology/technology-news/public-servant-sacked-for-googling-knockers-at-home-20110202-1adue.html

    But Justice Perram said the case came close to reaching a standard for it to be possibly overturned.

    “Some might think that the resources of the Commonwealth could be much better utilised on activities apart from the zealous pursuit [of the public servant] over something he did in his own home which was not against the law.”

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  4. Red Sam (120 comments) says:

    To me there’s absolutely nothing wrong with slagging off your employer if it’s out of work time and not on work computers. The Burger King woman in an earlier post is only communicating fact. What about at union meetings? Should workers be able to slag off their employers there?

    What people do and say in their own time is their business. So much for any liberal or libertarian thought amongst you right wing folk.

    If a boss doesn’t want workers slagging off the company, then pay decent wages, create better working conditions, and treat workers with dignity and respect.

    The Commonwealth Bank’s ridiculous nonsense above is somewhere in realm of fascism and stalinism. Utterly sickening!

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  5. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    ..there’s absolutely nothing wrong with slagging off your employer if it’s out of work time and not on work computers.

    What if it is specifically prohibited by the employment contract, into which you have freely entered?

    I have no problem with the company requiring this of their employees. Just as I have no problem with the employees saying ‘stick it up your arse’. But if someone offers you a job, and this is part of the contract, then you have a choice. If you don’t like the conditions of contract, then don’t take the job. Brilliantly simple and self-policing.

    Sure it’s a totally stupid and impractical thing for the company to require, and it makes them look like paranoid control-freaks, but it’s good for people/companies to overstep the mark. It becomes a salutary example for others and it lets people see that a free market and free society has a great way of dealing with stupidity.

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  6. malcolm (2,000 comments) says:

    Red Sam, do you run a business? If you do/did, would you have happy for your employees to tell all and sundry that your company is crap?

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  7. Hagues (711 comments) says:

    So how long til this post gets reported?

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  8. godruelf (52 comments) says:

    Sounds like a good excuse if you are pinged for looking at FB at work. Just looking for negative comments boss.

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  9. Kimble (4,092 comments) says:

    So Red Sam and Jack, if you hired a cleaner for your house, and then saw them calling you a cuckolded idiot and your wife a whore on Facebook, would you think “huh, it offends me, but the comments were made outside of work hours so I guess I have to keep them employed”?

    Telling them to “fuck off, find another job, and dont expect a fucking reference” would probably be closer to a realistic outcome.

    Would industrial espionage be OK if it was committed during off-work hours? How about vandalism of company property?

    So why is damaging the brand and reputation of the company you work for be any different?

    If you think this is in the realm of fascism and Stalin then YAFM.

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  10. Guy Fawkes (702 comments) says:

    Union activists and labour Party members can do what they want, when they want.

    That is the enactment of Helen Law. Bit like Danelaw, but different.

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  11. pq (728 comments) says:

    Farrar quotes

    Commonwealth Bank has threatened its employees with disciplinary action, including dismissal, if they do not report criticism of the bank made by others on social media channels, including Facebook.

    what has happened to the lucky country dudes
    peterquixote

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  12. peterwn (2,934 comments) says:

    Even under the former NZ Employment Contracts Act an employee would be held to have a valid grievance if an employer like Commonwealth Bank tried this stunt especially by trying to impose it on existing staff. t is like requiring staff to report to management any approaches from headhunters or forbidding staff to seek alternative employment without informing management first. The problem for the bank too is how would it know that a particular employee had this knowledge.

    On an allied employment matter, it now seems customary to write ‘restraint of trade’ clauses into many employment contracts. They may or may not be enforceable eg if a Wellington hairdressing salon employee wants to work for a Lower Hutt salon the employment court would not uphold a restraint of trade clause preventing this.

    In this regard, the Court of Appeal made a bad decision in upholding a restraint of trade clause on an interim basis in FUEL ESPRESSO LIMITED V HSIEH CA CA88/07 9 March 2007 the judgment here:
    http://jdo.justice.govt.nz/jdo/GetJudgment/?judgmentID=119564

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  13. Steve (4,318 comments) says:

    Commonwealth Bank will end up with a bunch of Socialist Suckeholers, just like Labor/Labour/Liarbore.
    The Bank balance will show who wants this

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  14. elscorcho (144 comments) says:

    How do you define criticism?
    Let’s say we say “Bank X has worse interest rates than Bank Y” – is that criticism?
    If I add “You’d have to be made to go with bank X because…”, is that criticism?
    “Bank X is inferior because…”? etc

    What if I was an employee of a bank and I wrote a brilliant economic research paper published in whatever prestigious economic journal there is (no idea myself), stating that “business model Y is inferior to X”, and it happened to me that that bankl used model Y, is there room for implied criticism?

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  15. elscorcho (144 comments) says:

    I’d also like to point out that in the US army, it’s common for serving members to publish articles in the literature critical of current doctrine etc and recommending some other doctrine
    It’s how organisations develop
    If an organisation as anal as the US army can allow free criticism, realising it leads to IMPROVEMENT, why can’t banks- who don’t do half a percent of anything anyway

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  16. slightlyrighty (2,448 comments) says:

    Kimble, you miss the point.

    Commonwealth Bank is asking employees to report criticism of the bank made by others.

    If your Facebook friend slagged off your employer, and YOU were sacked, how would you feel?

    This is what the Commonwealth bank is asking. Do you condone that practice?

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  17. Kimble (4,092 comments) says:

    slightlyrighty I was responding to the assertion by Jack and Red Sam that an employee should be able to do anything they like outside of work hours without professional repercussions.

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  18. nasska (9,501 comments) says:

    I cant quite see where the bank is going with this. Most people bitch about their banks usually with good cause. We even have an ombudsman such are the number & seriousness of the complaints.

    Although some of the complaints aired on Facebook etc will be subjective the vast majority would survive the legal defense of being true & factual. The Commonwealth Bank must be aiming to spend a shitload of their profits (shareholders funds) on legal fees if they are going to shut down a tiny proportion of what they surely consider libel.

    Once this farce becomes widely known the bank(s) will be a laughing stock.

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  19. John Ansell (861 comments) says:

    “Just what is socialist about this behaviour?”

    You haven’t heard of socialist dictatorships forcing children to inform on their parents, and friends to dob in friends?

    The Commonwealth Bank sounds like it’s been getting HR advice from the Khmer Rouge.

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  20. ephemera (563 comments) says:

    @John ansell

    Some socialist governments are dictatorships, but not all dictatorships are socialist.

    Never let logic get in the way of a good brainfart, though

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  21. DJP6-25 (1,229 comments) says:

    MyNameIsJack 5:26 pm. I mean fundamentally stupid. One lot thinks they can build paradise on earth. The other thinks they can do what was mentioned in the headline.

    cheers

    David Prosser

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  22. MyNameIsJack (2,415 comments) says:

    You haven’t heard of socialist dictatorships forcing children to inform on their parents, and friends to dob in friends?

    No, I haven’t. Where are they?

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  23. Flashman (184 comments) says:

    If organisational rules like this are to work they must be: complied with by a vast majority, enforcible, enforced and defensible.

    I’m calling Epic Fail on all four of the above evaluative criteria and suggesting that this organisation’s HR team needs a good old-fashioned Agent Orange restructuring.

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  24. tvb (3,938 comments) says:

    It is this sort of stupidity that makes Unions relevant. I would support any punitive action the Union takes against the bank for this policy.

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  25. Put it away (2,888 comments) says:

    MyBrainOnCrack – “No, I haven’t. Where are they?”

    Where are the socialist dictatorships? Mostly in the dustbin of history where they belong. The rest of the world grew up from socialism 20 years ago. What’s your excuse?

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  26. redqueen (342 comments) says:

    The real question here is whether this constitutes ‘and other reasonable duties’. If people are contractually consented to narking, then it really is there choice to work for Commonwealth Bank. So long as it’s transparent, that’s fine, but if they are simply ‘requiring’ staff to do this, or face dismissal, then it’s laughable and no court would allow it. This should be ridiculed for the paranoia that it shows from management, which obviously can’t take any criticism. But, equally, the union is just complaining without bothering to assert the probably unlawful demand being placed on its employees (in this case, the law of contracts). Oh wait, unions don’t care about freedom of contract…

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  27. unaha-closp (1,033 comments) says:

    If Commonwealth Bank spend endless hours on facebook at work can they now point to this clause and justify their time as part of their duties to their employer?

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  28. garethw (205 comments) says:

    Wow, John Ansell believes Sir Ralph Norris is a socialist dictator being advised by the Khmer Rouge. Rational stuff.

    Sir Ralph is a pretty technology-minded fellow so interesting if he’s been involved in this at all – he probably wasn’t originally but will be now…

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