The Employment Appeals Tribunal recently awarded €7,000 to an employee whose dismissal for use of a social media website during working hours was found to be unfair.

The employee worked as a marketing assistant in an electrical company. When she was found by her employer to be using a social media site during work hours, she was dismissed immediately.

The employee maintained that she had completed all work assigned to her and that her requests for more work were ignored.  She said that most of the time she spent on the internet was work related, and that any non-work related use was done openly and out of boredom.

The Tribunal held that the dismissal was unfair, finding that there were no valid grounds for dismissal. The Tribunal was influenced by the fact that the employee was neither provided with a contract of employment nor an internet and social media policy during her employment. In her evidence, she stated that had she been aware of the company’s internet policy, she would have abided by it.

This case serves as a reminder to employers of the importance of implementing a social media policy and ensuring that employees are aware of, and understand, its implications.