Can you dismiss an employee for posting a negative company review?

Company reviews left on websites such as Glassdoor and Indeed can be a great way for your organisation to build a positive reputation and help in efforts to recruit new talent.

However, there is always the risk that staff may leave negative reviews on these websites, which can have a very different impact altogether.

In some cases, the employee’s review may be so negative, you will feel you have to take action. In extreme circumstances, you may feel that you no longer want to employ the person who posted the bad review.

Do you have a workplace policy covering the actions?

Whether you can dismiss an employee for posting a negative company review will depend on a number of determining factors.

One such factor would be whether or not there is a workplace policy in place which regulates employees’ activity online. These policies typically prohibit staff from making defamatory comments that compromise the company or damage its reputation, as well as disclosing sensitive or confidential data.

Individuals that are found to breach these guidelines should be subject to the company’s disciplinary procedure, which depending on the circumstances could reasonably result in dismissal.

However, before making a decision on dismissing an employee for posting a negative review you should complete a thorough investigation. It is important to gather sufficient evidence of any alleged remarks, which should be easy to locate if the review was posted on social media.

However, if the review was posted on Glassdoor, or a similar website, it is likely to be anonymous and therefore difficult to attribute to one particular employee.

Does the review highlight genuine company problems?

Prior to taking action, you should also consider the legitimacy of the review and ask yourself – are the claims unfounded, or do they carry a semblance of truth?

You should also consider how a negative review may be a good way to uncover any underlying issues within the organisation that may be troubling, affording you an opportunity to address these and improve employee relations.

If the review specifically references issues such as bullying or harassment then you must look into this further, as doing so will be expected by an employment tribunal should the employee in question end up making a claim for constructive or unfair dismissal.

Remind staff on how they can air grievances

To cover all bases an informal meeting should be held in which staff are reminded to make use of the company’s grievance reporting procedure if they are experiencing any problems at work.

Ultimately, if a negative review is untruthful and brings the company into disrepute it would be possible to dismiss the employee, providing the source of the review is clear and that it does not allude to any activities that could be covered by whistleblowing.

On the other hand, it is worth understanding that dismissing an employee for making a valid claim about the business, without making an effort to improve the situation, is unlikely to be well received by the rest of the workforce and could instead exacerbate any pre-existing feelings of discontent.

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Peter Done, Managing Director of Peninsula Business Services – the UK’s leading specialist Employment Law, HR and Health & Safety service.

Last updated: 22nd February, 2021

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