The Facts: Can Your Employer Control Your Social Media Use?

HRLA has prepared a series of facts sheets to help you become informed about your religious freedom rights. This is the fourth in the series and explores the question whether your employer can control your social media use.

Here’s what you need to know.

Social context

Several high profile cases in Australia have shown that employers are increasingly interested in what their employees do and say outside of the workplace, including on social media.

In many workplaces, employers and regulatory bodies can hold people to a standard of conduct that covers their actions outside of work, especially in a profession that has an impact on public welfare. Many employees are subject to a Code of Conduct that will encompass aspects of an employee’s personal behaviour. Increasingly, employers have policies covering social media use.

What Does the Law Say?

Fair Work legislation gives employers a right to impose conditions on their employees. As an employee, you are obliged to comply with the terms of your employment contract. Your employer can also impose a Code of Conduct and other workplace policies, including social media policies. And you must comply with your employer’s lawful and reasonable directions relating to your work.

Employers can take steps to protect their public image and reputation, and may be able to take disciplinary action against an employee who has breached their contract or Code of Conduct.

However, such action must be consistent with state and federal laws, including employment and anti-discrimination laws.

The Fair Work Act and state discrimination laws prevent employers from taking adverse action based on religious or political belief.


Dr Jereth Kok

Dr Jereth Kok was a Victorian doctor of more than 15 years’ experience.

In 2019, he was suspended by the Medial Board for comments on his private social media page expressing his Christian views on abortion, euthanasia, sexuality, and identity.

Despite never receiving a complaint from a patient or colleague, Jereth lost his career and was forced to retrain. HRLA is defending Jereth against allegations of professional misconduct in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Tips for Using Social Media

  • Informed. Understand your employer’s social media policy and Code of Conduct and know your employment contract.
  • Context. How publicly visible is your role? Does it have an impact on public welfare?
  • Connection: Is there any connection between your online profile and your role? Could your online comments be seen as representing your employer?
  • Impact: Who can see your online activity? What are your social media privacy settings? Are your online comments visible to your employer, colleagues or clients?
  • Permanent: Once your comments are online, it is difficult, if not impossible, to erase it.
  • Avoid using work email for private use.

Note: This fact sheet does not constitute legal advice. If you are unsure about your legal rights at work, contact HRLA. We have experience helping everyday Australians as they face hostility for their Christian views. The sooner you get legal assistance, the easier it is to resolve a problem. Visit for more information.