Bank to fire staff who didn’t report criticism on Facebook

Saturday, February 5, 2011

SYDNEY - An Australian bank has warned its employees of disciplinary action, including dismissal, if any one of them fails to report criticism of the bank made by others on social media channels, including Facebook.

Commonwealth Bank’s employees have been directed to immediately notify their manager if they come across “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 Australian reported Saturday the Commonwealth Bank’s policy as stating.

The bank’s policy further directs that as well as notifying their manager, employees must assist the bank with any investigation into the material, and its removal.

“Failure to comply with this policy is a serious disciplinary matter and may result in disciplinary action being taken against you, which may include the termination of your employment,” the policy says.

Employees are also told they must not allow any use of social media channels to adversely affect their work.

Workers cannot comment on, post or store any information about bank-related matters, including their terms and conditions of employment, or information about dealings with customers.

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) Friday demanded the suspension of the Commonwealth Bank’s new social media policy, accusing it of trying to restrict freedom of expression.

In a letter to the bank, Finance Sector Union official Wendy Streets said the policy requirements were onerous and unreasonable, as they suggested the employees were able to control other people’s use of social media.

“Conversations about the colour of the teacups in the workplace, who is winning the footy tipping competition or what days of the week CBA employees are permitted to wear casual clothes” [were] examples which would constitute a breach of the policy as it was currently worded, Streets wrote.

“Similarly, participation in a public debate about the four major banks increasing interest rates above the RBA increases or charging too much for their credit cards would also fall within the purview of the policy.

“Such conduct, whilst being a breach of the policy, would not constitute a breach of the employee’s duty of good faith under the contract of employment and would not cause damage to the reputation or interest of the banks.”

Commonwealth Bank Friday, however, indicated that it was willing to change the policy.

Filed under: Society

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