Monday, November 12, 2007


An article in yesterday's Observer reckons that one-fifth of British employers now check Facebook or MySpace before taking on new employees to see if they have sites with anything insalubrious on them. Like songs about the glories of the trade union movement or something.

You'd think, wouldn't you, that a person was free to do what they bloody well pleased in their private time. You'd think. Sadly, we don't live in that kind of world anymore. Employers don't just have the right to judge your employment history when they're thinking of taking you on. Seems they have assumed the right to judge your politics and your moral character as well.

My own field of money work, "social care", as it's delightfully called, even issues you with a code of conduct that says you are a representative of your company at all times, even when you're not at work. We debated it at a training session once and I was the only one in the group who could see anything wrong with that.

Let me tell you most assuredly, whoever might be looking on, I represent only me when I leave work and start the long bus ride home. If you don't like that let's discuss it in the public arena so that everybody can see what presumptuous usurping wolves you have become. Then we might have a chance of restoring a little sanity in the employment world.


Ralph Murre said...


Good food for thought here, and though I grew up the son of a devout union man and Socialist voter, I'm not sure I see why a prospective employer should not find out what he can about the person who may be hired.

When we choose to publish our viewpoints on a matter, (and yes, the button at the end of this comment board reads "PUBLISH YOUR COMMENT"), then I think we are saying that we are prepared to take responsibility for those published words, thoughts and ideas. Responsibility, in my mind, includes suffering the consequences, whatever they may be, that go along making our views public.

This notion of publication, I think, has nothing to do with the internet, since it is just another soapbox we CHOOSE to stand on. Let's go back, for a moment, to the neighborhood bar, which may be more correctly called "pub", which, I believe, is short for "public house". When I decide to shoot my mouth off at a bar, have I not, in fact, published my thoughts? Hasn't anyone who hears my remarks, either directly or by repetition, the right, as a thinking human being, to pass some bit of judgement based upon his understanding of my remarks?

- Ralph Murre

Bruce Hodder said...

Well, I don't disagree with that. My only problem with what's happening is that employers are habitually conservative and their only real interest is in protecting the profitability of their company. So I have to hide the person I am--my political opinions, my sexual preferences, my liking for substances they might not approve of, my enjoyment of getting naked and standing in the rain singing old Woody Guthrie songs--in arenas that have nothing to do with my employer, such as the internet, in case some guy who comes from a totally different cultural position doesn't approve of it? Or I have to accept that I have no right to work if I publically admit I smoke pot etc etc? It's a long involved argument, but employers apply puritanical values already to their judgements and if those are allowed to reach into our private lives without being challenged--or without employers even being honest enough to admit it in public, so people can see what they're really like--we'll all wake up, if we ever do, back in the 1950s. I say cultural plurality is a good thing and as long as I am able to do my job, or you are able to do your job, these people should keep their noses out.

There's enough censorship and enough conservatism in society already.