Code of Conduct case - Employee found to have made inappropriate postings on social media

An employee was found to have breached section 13(11) of the Code of Conduct for posting material on Facebook that had the potential to bring his agency into disrepute. He posted two comments on his Facebook page, one critical of a grants process conducted by his agency and the second criticising the achievements of a senior employee who received an honour on the Queen's birthday.

The employee's Facebook page was private and did not identify the employee as an employee of his agency. Nevertheless, his postings came to the attention of his employer. The Merit Protection Commissioner confirmed the findings of the agency decision maker that the employee's comments were not confined to publically available information and that it was reasonable to assume that at least some of his Facebook friends would be aware of his employment. The Merit Protection Commissioner also found that the behaviour was in breach of the agency's social media policy which warned employees not to publish material on social media that could harm the reputation of the agency or bring it into disrepute.

The Merit Protection Commissioner recommended that the agency confirm the sanctions of a fine and reprimand imposed on the employee.