Firing an Employee for Leaving Negative Reviews: What the Law Says
You online reputation is a vital resource not only for your customers and clients, but for individuals hoping to apply to work within your organisation. Social media sites like Twitter are useful for searching current employee’s opinions, but in recent years job hunting aggregates like Indeed and workplace review sites like Glassdoor have placed a focus on gathering information about business’ working hours, pay rates, perks and even office atmosphere.
Whether you’re launching a large recruitment drive or you’re working on ensuring your staff turnover remains stable, it can be shocking to discover that a current employee is unhappy with their situation. Finding a negative review about your business online is upsetting, and the potential damage caused can be devastating to your reputation. However, while your initial response might be to call the individual responsible in for a disciplinary hearing or even to dismiss them, this could make the situation worse. There are ways to confront the situation without causing further harm to your company. Read on to find out what you can do within the law to protect your business and ensure your employees are confident that you are working with their best interests in mind.
Step 1: Arm yourself with all the information
The worst thing you could do immediately after discovering a negative review by one of your employees is to launch into a witch-hunt straight away. It could be that your employee has left useful, constructive feedback based on a difficult situation they’ve been experiencing at work.
For now, be patient, request a one-to-one meeting with the individual (and their line manager if you can), and find out exactly why they felt compelled to talk negatively about the business in a public space.
Step 2: Take all allegations seriously
Talking to your employee directly is the only way to find out what has been troubling them at work. If they make allegations against members of their team, they must be taken seriously. These allegations could include:
In these cases, a full investigation must be made, and a tribunal may be necessary.
Step 3: Uncover any untruths
If it’s found that the employee in question has brought the business’ reputation or working processes into disrepute based on incorrect or baseless accusations, you may have a basis with which to dismiss them.
Be aware, however, that firing an employee without making visible efforts to improve the situations raised in their negative review can cause dissatisfaction within the wider workforce and could make things worse.
Follow-up: Strengthen your grievances policy
Once you’ve dealt with the issue at hand – whether you work with your employee to resolve their problems, or dismiss them for misconduct – it’s time to take a look at the way grievances are dealt with within your organisation.
- Call an informal meeting with all of your teams and discuss ways in which their issues and grievances could be more easily reported and dealt with.
- Ask for feedback from your employees about how satisfied they are with the workplace environment and what could be done to improve their situation.
- Remind your staff members about the company’s policies and procedures with regards to airing grievances and private company information online, with clear guidelines and information on how negative reviews online regarding the business will be dealt with in the future.
If you are experiencing concerns, grievances or complex HR issues within your workplace and would like practical, considered legal advice from some of Lancashire’s leading employment law and tribunal specialists, please call us today on 01282 433241.