Planking at work

Planking at work

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Two members of staff posted pictures of themselves 'planking' on facebook. Lying in places that put their health and safety at risk, ontop of top shelf in backroom at work. Above back door at work. comments have been made about this on facebook, including the Manager saying 'I wasnt in, Ha ha'. We plan to investigate all three, how far could we go with this? Could we go to dismissal? we have a policy on blogging and social networking which states.

Where a user has disclosed confidential information, breached the companies data

protection obligations or any of the companies equal opportunities or Bullying and

Harassment policies, failed to obtain consent before making a comment public, used

official branding without consent, made a disparaging or critical comments, or done

anything which harms or could reasonably be expected to harm the companies

reputation or business interests this will be treated as misconduct under the

companies disciplinary procedures and in serious cases will be treated as gross

misconduct and could lead to dismissal.

Replies (6)

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By Duncanchandler
27th Jul 2011 16:16

I may be missing the point here, but two employees have exposed themselves to danger by deliberatley lying somewhere that is dangerous.

I will assume that through your training or policies they are aware this is not permitted under your HSWP that probably says "you should not expose yourself or others to danger" and it is documented they are aware of the policy.

They made that evidence available to others

Their manager who is responsible for their Health and Saftey makes a joke of it and takes no action, so condones their behavoiur.


The questions I would have is

how does it harm the companies reputation, as the rest in my opinion is not relevant?Are the employees and manager clearly aware of the Health and Saftey policyWhy did the manager take no action when there is clear evidence of a breach.Were the photos posted in working time or in a rest break or out of work time

For me I would focus on that rather than your social media policy and contemplate a disciplinary investigation with both employees and manager. Remember that as the manager has done nothing in the eyes of the 'no win no fee brigade' the manager has condoned the unsafe practice.

In my opinion I don't think there is enough for dismissal on your social media policy. The question for me is the seriousness based on your Health and Saftey policy and standards if you have them?

How far it goes really depends on is this a one off, have others been doing it, are you willing to take equal action against all if prooven? 

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By keefy
02nd Aug 2011 12:44

 Did the employees carry out a risk assesment before the planking? If you take this up, how do you go forward if they show you a risk assesment?

Shelves are designed to take a load. Are they clearly marked not to take humans? Are the shelves in your risk register?

What is above the back door? Must be a structure of some sort, or are they Spiderman? Is the structure risk assessed? Is the structure in your risk register?

Was it an acceptable risk, if a risk at all. Who is capable of making that decision?

How did you find out on facebook? Are you intruding on privacy of your employees? Do you know the images are genuine?

Have you thought of getting off your high horse. Why are you considering dismissal in a semi public forum before you have the full facts?

Is your company struggling? Are your workforce effective? Do you as HR, hold full P&L responsibility? Do you as HR manage people or police them?

How do you plan to deal with publicity if this goes public? What will the effects be on the rest of your workforce?

Was there malicious intent?

What H&S guidelines have been broached?



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By rjherridge
02nd Aug 2011 14:20

Hi Sarah.

Im pleased to see that what I said in my email to you is the same as Duncan has said !(I find it personally reassuring !!). He is right when he says that its more a breach of Health and Safety rather than social media.

I didn't though, read your post and thought that you are on "A high horse" - forums such as these are designed to glean others ideas and actions and to share in situations - for some, its great to have unseen and unknown people who you can bounce ideas off of and see things from other angles - especially when, as you ask = "We plan to investigate all three - How far can we go on this?" and "Could we go for dismissal?"

As for going public and dealing with publicity - well, thats something that everyone in your unenviable position risks BUT - it would be worse IF you knew that this had occured in the workplace and did nothing about it - the remaining staff must know that "Policing" is sometimes one of the many tasks that HR managers have to do - like it or not - along with managing them!

Lastly - Everyone knows that Facebook is sometimes not as private as we all like to think, particularly photos !  so you could get the information from the internet -  !

Good Luck with your investigations - please let us know how it all goes! and please - if you want to bounce any ideas just let us know!




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By sarahhowardillston
04th Aug 2011 12:05

Hi Sarah,

I think somebody might have been having a bad day.  You don't sound like you are on your high horse at all.  I think maybe that they were trying to point out that sometimes, what can seem on first inspection a really serious issue, can upon investigation reveal itself to be of fairly low impact/consequence and therefore require a less serious outcome.  I'm not saying that is necessarily be the case here because only you know the full facts/your culture etc and you are perfectly correct in considering all options.  It's actually the only way to be fair to everybody involved and also avoid putting the company at unecessary risk.  There's absolutely nothing wrong with asking questions and talking things through.

Another Sarah

 PS The manager's response is a different thing altogether!!



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By Dominicalan
18th Aug 2011 11:08

A timely and growing topical issue certainly in employment law - and as we see the criminal law albeit for other reasons.But just watch the connections that will soon start to be made between criminal convictions and a person's employment status.You heard it here first -lol

We now have an abundance of caselaw here where on balance the employer HAS WON - these matters go far far beyond the health and safety considerations mentioned by one of your correspondents. There are issues linked to a fiduciary duty to obey lawful instructions, use of IT resources, the employer's reputation and a duty of care -a duty that does includes the health and safety issues but takes you into other areas. And the fact that someone uses social media even when not at work can - and has - brought about cases that have focused on bringing the employer into disrepute and other matters relating to libel.

We have a free factsheet on this matter including a review of recent cases together with a free monthly newsletter.Simply go to our websdite - and request the social media employment lw briefing and newsletter.It will automatically answer you and send the material. Our social media! -lol

A good posting -thank you


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By rcl
25th Aug 2011 11:24

I'd never heard of planking before.

Looking at your policy, it seems that unless they are threatening the company's brand, that policy doesn't apply. Surely that was written for people writing "Well I work for ABC and we all think that XYZ are a bunch of crooks.." i.e. claiming to represent corporate opinions.

It doesn't seem to apply here.

H&S? I agree, what they have actually done is provide evidence of a breach of H&S. And of course they did a risk assessment... of sorts. In that they thought that whatever they climbed onto would take their weight.

Stupid stunts at work are as old as... work itself. What's changed is that this is no longer a joke amongst a few people, a practical joke, it's potentially a global joke.

I suppose the bottom line is, what do you want to do about it? Do you want to fire them as a lesson to others? Do you just want to make sure it doesn't happen again? Do you just want them to know how cross you are?

You ask if you could go to dismissal, is that actually what you want?

I think that the answer here is to understand what you want to do and work back from there.

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