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SOCIAL NET TIME SPENT AT WORK IS THEFT IN ANYBODYS LANGUAGE

A LANDSCAPE architect fired for overusing an email chat service has been found to have been unfairly dismissed. It is the latest case for Fair Work Australia that deals with internet and social media use in the workplace.

Richard O’Connor had been employed by Outdoor Creations, in Melbourne. He had resigned and was about to leave the job when he was abruptly sacked for more than ”3000 transactions on a chat line during work time”.

His employer claimed, after searching his computer, that he had been using the Google Mail chat service when he was supposed to be working.

Employer David Kirkpatrick said in a letter of termination that engaging in personal activities for such a period of time while at work was akin to the theft ”of hundreds if not thousands of dollars worth of paid time”. Mr O’Connor denied using the chat service to the extent claimed.

The Fair Work Australia commissioner Anne Gooley said neither party had provided independent evidence about the net use. She said that while excessive use of social media during work hours may justify dismissal there was insufficient evidence to dismiss Mr O’Connor. He had also not been given an opportunity to respond before being sacked.


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