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It’s something you hear more and more: young people being fired for wearing company clothing in their TikTok video. More often than not these are uplifting, funny videos made purely for entertainment. So is it legal for an employer to fire you? Time to put this question to Suzanne Meijers, employment law attorney.
Suzanne, let’s get straight to the main question. Fired for wearing company clothing in a TikTok video: is this allowed?
“You cannot fire someone because they’ve made a TikTok video while wearing company clothing. They should always take the circumstances into consideration. When an employee makes a cheerful video in his spare time while dressed in his work clothes, he or she should not immediately be fired. At least not if there are no other issues with this employee. An employer can always first give a warning.”
When can an employer fire the employee?
“When an employee makes videos that show the employer in a negative light, it is of course a different story. The same applies to videos that are made in the workplace itself, especially if the workplace is identifiable. If there is a deliberate insult, or for example, if patients are visible in the video, in such cases instant dismissal is permitted.
But before taking formal disciplinary measures such as a warning or dismissal, it helps if an employer has been clear and laid down the rules. “
Should there be specific rules in the workplace regarding the making of TikTok videos? And where should these be documented?
“Social media use is becoming increasingly popular so as an employer it is wise to draw up some rules. You can include these in the company’s code of conduct, regulations, or protocol. You can stipulate, for example, that employees may not publish videos on the internet in which the company clothing can be seen.
You must also make it clear to the staff that this document exists, and perhaps even part of the employment relationship. But you also need to make them aware of your company’s ‘game’ rules. In doing so, you reduce the chance of issues arising. If someone posts a video wearing company clothing, you can refer to the rules and give a warning.”
You cannot simply fire someone in The Netherlands, and a video of an employee in company clothing is usually not a strong enough reason. As an employer, it is better to ensure that you have clear rules before confronting someone. For employees, I have just one tip: do not make videos in company clothing if you want to keep your job. It is not worth the risk. There are plenty of other fun clothes that you can use to create a funny scene.