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Recent FW decision in a digitally connected age

Nov 28, 2023

  • 2min

Recent FW decision in a digitally connected age

Industry News, Legislative Changes, Talent Operations
A person using their work laptop for personal browsing in a digitally connected age
In today’s digitally connected era, the line between personal and professional life has become increasingly blurred. The recent case of a lawyer being unfairly terminated for personal internet browsing during work hours sheds light on the challenges employers face in addressing this crossover.

This incident highlights the importance of establishing clear guidelines and procedures to balance an employee’s personal activities and professional responsibilities.

three men sit over a work table using a laptop and a personal phone.
We are more connected than ever, our business policies need to be adaptable.

Understanding the Modern Workplace Dynamics

In the age of remote work and constant connectivity, team members often find themselves juggling personal and work-related tasks. Employers need to recognise this reality and adapt their policies to accommodate the evolving nature of the workplace. The lawyer’s case underscores the need for a nuanced approach that considers the challenges of the modern work environment.

Performance Concerns and Remote Work Issues

The lawyer’s situation included concerns about both performance and unauthorised remote work. Employers must proactively address performance issues and set expectations for remote work to avoid misunderstandings. Regular performance evaluations, open communication, and clearly defined remote work policies can help mitigate such issues.

The Dilemma of Personal Internet Browsing

The lawyer’s seven-hour personal internet browsing over four days raised questions about the acceptable boundaries of personal activities during work hours. While employers have a legitimate interest in maintaining productivity, it is crucial to establish realistic expectations and communicate them clearly to team members. Striking a balance between personal freedom and professional responsibilities is key to fostering a healthy work environment.

Procedural Deficiencies in Termination

The Fair Work Commission’s ruling emphasised the procedural deficiencies in the lawyer’s termination. Employers should ensure that any disciplinary actions, including terminations, follow a fair and transparent process. This includes notifying team members of specific concerns, providing them with an opportunity to respond, and considering the overall context of their performance.

Recommendations for Employers

Clear Communication

Clearly communicate expectations regarding personal internet usage during work hours. Establish guidelines that distinguish acceptable from unacceptable behaviour.

Regular Performance Reviews

Conduct regular performance reviews to address concerns promptly and provide constructive feedback. This allows team members to understand expectations and improve their performance.

Remote Work Policies

Clearly define remote work policies, outlining when and how team members can work remotely. Address concerns about unauthorised remote work through open communication and collaboration.

Fair Disciplinary Process

Follow a fair and transparent disciplinary process when faced with performance issues. Notify team members of specific concerns, allow them to respond, and consider the overall context of their performance.

Training and Awareness

Provide training to team members on acceptable internet usage and the company’s policies. Foster awareness of the impact personal activities can have on overall productivity.

As the digital landscape continues to shape how we work, employers must adapt their policies and procedures to address the challenges posed by personal and work internet browsing crossover. Striking a balance between personal freedom and professional responsibilities and fair and transparent processes is essential for maintaining a productive and harmonious workplace. By navigating these boundaries thoughtfully, employers can foster a positive work environment that encourages accountability and employee well-being.

Our team can help you create and manage your own policies and procedures. Call us on 1800 868 254 or set up a meeting to discuss how we can help you.

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