Reminder: Your Facebook Status And Photos Can Get You Fired

A flight attendant in New Zealand has been forced to provide Facebook access to her employers following a dispute about sick leave. The incident sets a dark precedent for the workplace where bosses will be legally entitled to pilfer your social networking sites for proof of dishonesty. But there are steps you can take to hide the evidence…

Air NZ flight attendant Gina Kensington was fired earlier in the year following a dispute over sick leave, reports One News. Kensington disputed the sacking at the Employment Relations Authority (ERA) and has since been ordered to hand over her Facebook and bank details to prove the validity of her claims.

In particular, Kensington was asked to provide all Facebook updates from March 8 and 9 as they would provide “substantially helpful” evidence.

It seems highly probable that Kensington’s ex-employers already knew what was on her Facebook page and that the evidence was damning to her claim; the request for specific dates is especially suss. We suspect that a Facebook Friend colleague may have dobbed her in.

In any event, it definitely pays to keep your online social networks separate from your workplace — while it’s tempting to add everyone on Facebook when you start a new job, there’s no telling what sort of headaches this could cause for you further down the track. Long-time readers will recall the hapless Townsville Good Guys employee who was unceremoniously sacked after making insulting comments about his co-workers on his Facebook page (read the full story here). Again, this likely wouldn’t have been an issue if none of his colleagues had access to his page.

In short, it pays to keep your social and work lives separate — we’re not saying don’t make friends with your co-workers, but by the same token, don’t hand over the keys to your social networks to every employee in the building. As we’ve noted in the past, if any of your colleagues can see your Facebook posts, it could become an office issue even if you’ve taken care not to make your posts visible to your boss. It’s just asking for trouble.

You can read a thorough overview of Facebook’s privacy settings here.

Do you think employers should be allowed to request access to employees’ Facebook accounts? If this a massive breach of privacy or only concerning if you have something to hide? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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