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TikTok? Rather not – Social media and the workplace


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TikTok? Rather not – Social media and the workplace

Other briefs

16th April 2024


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It is a new age, and Generation Z, aptly known as Zoomers, are beginning to make up a large part of the workplace. With that comes employees who actively engage in all forms of social media. They use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok almost interchangeably. While social media certainly has its benefits, there is no doubt that underneath the surface lurks a dark underbelly.

These employees will often participate in TikTok videos, which are generally funny or uplifting skits, purely for entertainment. On TikTok, alarmingly, users sometimes can be seen filming their workplace or posting a personal video while wearing company clothing. They may even complain about colleagues or management in a TikTok video showcasing the workplace and employer in an identifiable and negative light.


Should such conduct be allowed, and can it lead to disciplinary action or even dismissal?

It is advised that all employers adopt a detailed social media policy, clearly indicating to employees what is and what is not allowed when using social media. The rules regarding the use of social media should be incorporated into the contract of employment and disciplinary code.


This type of misconduct has been dealt with in the South African Courts before. In the case of Juda Phonyogo Dagane v South African Police Services (2018) 7 BLLR 669, the Labour Court dismissed a review application brought by an employee who challenged an arbitration award which upheld his dismissal for comments made by him on Facebook.

In Sedrick and Another v Krisray Pty Ltd (2011) 8 BALR 879 (CCMA) and Fredricks v JO Barkett Fashions [2011] JOL 27923 (CCMA), the employees were dismissed because of derogatory Facebook status updates. They challenged the fairness of the dismissals at the CCMA.  In both cases, the CCMA found that the employees were fairly dismissed.

TikTok has overtaken Facebook in terms of the number of downloads and is the most used App in the world. It may only be a matter of time before we see cases regarding its use in our Courts. Should a breach of the social media policy occur, employers should investigate the transgression and deal with it in terms of its disciplinary code. In severe cases, it may even lead to the dismissal of an employee.

Written by Siliziwe Rumbu, Dispute Resolution Official at Consolidated Employers Organisation (CEO SA)


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