Social media: what rights and what limits?  - Trends-Trends on PC

Social media: what rights and what limits? – Trends-Trends on PC

Last month, the Finnish Prime Minister was criticized because of her participation in a party with friends. She rightly defended her right to privacy. Inspired by this incident, one can ask whether a company has the right to sanction a worker following inappropriate behavior outside working hours.

The worker has fundamental rights, including those to freedom of expression and privacy. But are these rights absolute? Does the right to freedom of expression allow the worker to say everything and write everything?

The worker has fundamental rights, including those to freedom of expression and privacy. But are these rights absolute? Does the right to freedom of expression allow the worker to say everything and write everything? Although the right to freedom of expression is enshrined in both the Belgian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights, it nevertheless has its limits. Article 10 of the Convention provides that the exercise of freedom of expression entails duties and responsibilities and may be subject, under certain conditions, to certain restrictions and sanctions, for example for the protection of reputation or the rights of others. In our country, the law on the employment contract specifies that employer and worker owe each other “respect and mutual regard”. A worker is therefore not free to declare anything and everything, even outside of working hours. The right to privacy is also enshrined in European legislative provisions as well as in the Belgian Constitution. However, the right to privacy is tempered when the worker himself decides to make it public through social media. Consequently, a worker who publishes slanderous remarks on social networks that can be viewed by everyone will find it more difficult to exercise his right to privacy than a worker who finds himself on social media without his knowledge, for example by posting a video. While respecting the fundamental rights of the worker, an employer can set up tools in his company in order to moderate, even sanction, the behavior of certain workers, for example by imposing on his workers a policy intended to regulate the use of the media. social. These sanctions must be included in the work regulations and respect the principles of transparency, purpose and proportionality. As such, punishable behavior for a company spokesperson will not be the same as for an administrative employee who is not in contact with customers. If the case law accepts that facts relating to private life can constitute a serious reason for terminating the employment contract, it is still necessary, in order to do so, that these facts are of such a nature as to tarnish the trust presiding over the continuation of the relationship. of work. It is for this reason that the facts relating to offenses (even serious) committed in the private sphere are not judged unanimously by the case law, these facts having to be assessed in the light of the concrete impact they may have have on the employment relationship.

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