Dear PEA members,
The PEA works to protect members from being disciplined or silenced for exercising their free expression rights, through collective bargaining, grievance procedures and political action.
When deciding how to engage publicly with events and issues, members should be aware that labour arbitrators have found that in some cases off-duty conduct, including posting on social media, can justify discipline.
When deciding whether conduct outside of work warrants discipline, arbitrators will consider several factors, including if the conduct:
- Harms the employer’s reputation;
- Leads to a refusal, reluctance or inability of other employees to work with the employee whose conduct is at issue;
- Breaks the law in a way that harms the reputation of the employer and/or its employees; and
- Makes it difficult for the employer to carry out its functions and efficiently manage its workforce.
When conduct relates to activities online or on social media, arbitrators will consider if the conduct or comments can be linked to the employer, how widely and publicly the content or actions were disseminated, if the off-duty conduct reflects poorly on the employer, and if the activity has damaged the employer’s reputation or operations.
While individuals can control the intention behind their statements, they cannot control how a statement is interpreted and this can have negative employment consequences.
If you would like more information about this topic, or if have received negative feedback, warnings or discipline about your statements or actions on current events we recommend getting in touch with your labour relations officer to get advice and support.
Professional Employees Association