25 September 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Te Whatu Ora must stand by employees’ rights to freedom of thought and speech
The Free Speech Union insists that Te Whatu Ora stand by their employees’ rights of freedom of thought and speech after an incident last week.
We were informed by one of their members who’d had a complaint laid against them due to opinions held on an anonymous Twitter account. The complaint was made to Te Whatu Ora after a member of the public made the connection between the medical professional and the anonymous account, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.
“When Te Whatu Ora was contacted for comment by The Press, they said they’d be raising the concerns directly with the employee as part of their normal organisational processes.
“Te Whatu Ora should refuse to comment on any staff member's private statements unrelated to their work. It is beyond the relationship between the employer and employee, and Te Whatu Ora should have merely noted that it has no business in approving or disapproving of an employee’s opinions on matters not going to the performance of their professional duties. As is noted in the media statement released by Te Whatu Ora on 20 September, there exists no connection between the employee’s tweets and their medical practice.
“We have written to Andrew Slatter, Chief People Officer at Te Whatu Ora requesting he confirm the organisation’s justification for interfering with employees’ thoughts and speech outside of their jobs.
“Employees do not give up their rights when they undertake a particular profession. We will not stand by while professional bodies deny their employees’ freedom.”
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