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(UK based)

My employer wants to interview myself and a bunch of my colleagues for a very lengthy corporate video to go on the website. It is quite a big name and there would be a lot of traffic from all over the world.

Am I right in thinking that they can't legally force me to do so? I've been there for 2 years and passed my probation long ago.

Without going into too much detail, the video would still be online for years and years even if I were to later quit the job... which I find very uncomfortable to think about.

Also, the majority of people on a similar salary to me haven't even been asked about it, so I dont see how it is fair that I have to.

There was never any mention of doing something like this at my job interview originally.

Can I also refuse an audio-only interview if they try to get me to do that instead? I'm honestly not keen on either.

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    Ask HR or your manager directly to see if you have the option not to be filmed for this company. They will tell you "YES" or "NO", and give you the reasons and good explanations. Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 4:46
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    As always in these situations, the key is to decline (their generous and amazing opportunity) not to refuse (a burden no sensible person would want to be part of). Just thankyou, but no thankyou. Refusing gets hackles up and leads in directions you won't like. Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 17:42
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    Have you actually just told them nicely that you don't want to participate? And if so what did they say? Before resorting to legal steps that seem the logical thing to do.
    – seg
    Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 13:24
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    What's your job description though? Your employer doesn't own you. They just hire you to fill a particular position. If these demands are reasonably unrelated to the position, then it would be reasonable to refuse. I'm just talking common sense - I don't know the legality, they may depend on laws and any "fine print" in your contract - a lawyer can tell you.
    – Rolf
    Commented Sep 17, 2023 at 21:26
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    @Nelson That really depends on the context. Nobody expects the Walmart cashier in the TV ad to actually work at Walmart. But if an IT company puts out a "Meet our Team" video, and it later turns out that nobody in this video actually works for the company, Reddit will be all over it.
    – xLeitix
    Commented Sep 18, 2023 at 9:03

3 Answers 3

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In order to evade the potential legal complications, I believe a more pertinent question would be:

"How can I avoid participating in the interviews without damaging my relationship with my employer?"

This is a simple task - honesty is key, minus the obvious likelihood that you may not work with them in a few years. For me, a fairly straightforward script has always sufficed whenever I didn't want to be involved in such activities:

"Hello XYZ, I understand that you wished for me to partake in the video/photo-shoot/interviews, but to be truthful, I'm not keen on the idea of having such a broad online presence. I generally steer clear of social media, and the dissemination of my words, photos, and videos on the internet makes me uneasy. Thank you for your understanding."

It truly doesn't need to be more complex than that. If your wishes are subsequently disregarded and the tone shifts from a request to an authoritative command, that would be an appropriate occasion to pose a second question. But initially, it's best to maintain a light approach.

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    Good. I would add "thank you for the honor of being asked to appear". Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 3:13
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    I agree. The problem with trying to be specific and give, or even invent(!!!), detailed justifications, is that those justifications then give the employer points to latch on to. For example, imagine you say "I am not good at public speaking" and then the employer decides to send you to an all-expenses-paid seminar on public speaking? Now, the reason you gave them for not doing the interview is gone and if you come up with another one, you will lose credibility! Keep it general, vague, but truthful. Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 8:47
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    @BasilBourque "Thank you for asking me" is good yes, but calling it an "honor" seems silly and since the OP obviously does not consider it an honor, it is also likely to come across as sarcastic.
    – terdon
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 10:22
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    "I generally steer clear of social media" is fine, if it's true.
    – Wastrel
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 14:52
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    I would avoid a detailed explanation, as it opens you up for argumentation. A simple "I'd rather not participate for personal reasons" should be enough, at least in writing. They may ask you for details, but if so, they'll do it carefully to avoid stepping on anything legally protected.
    – njzk2
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 15:11
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As stated in other answers, raising your objections about public appearances on behalf of the company to whoever is organizing the interview casting should be sufficient usually. Your personal concerns are totally valid; if you do not want to appear publicly and you were not hired for it, there is nothing "logically wrong" about your objection.

I would, however, advise against bringing up certain lines of reasoning the way you have here:

There was never any mention of doing something like this at my job interview originally.

Do point out you are hired and want to work as an [insert your job], which does not normally include public appearances. But rather do not nail it down to these public appearances not being mentioned at the interview, at least not without explaining how you view this particular task as extraordinarily different from your regular work.

Realistically, job descriptions can only outline the usual activities in the job, not every one-off happening that may or may not come up at some point in the future. Thus, generally refusing absolutely anything unless it is among the tasks mentioned during the initial interview might just make you appear as unnecessarily inflexible, and in the worst case, unwilling to expand your experience.

Also, the majority of people on a similar salary to me haven't even been asked about it, so I dont see how it is fair that I have to.

This does not strike me as a surprise. Assuming you were hired for your skills in whichever job you do normally, not all of you will be equally suited to appear on film. By that, I do not mean you have to be the most handsome person in the world, just that you may look suitably "professional", your manner of speaking may be deemed appropriately suitable, like being able to form correct sentences without lots of uhs and ahs in between, and so on.

Also, note that this goes both ways. You say you do not want to see your video online after you have quit that job. Likewise, the company probably doesn't want to have an advertisement video online that contains someone who might become a vocal critic of the company later on (maybe you know you won't, but they don't). By offering this participation to you, they show at least in part they deem you sufficiently loyal to the company to represent it publicly.

Therefore, I'd bring up this fairness angle only if they really try pressing the point without leaving a way out.

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  • Thank you – All good points, also I'll keep that in mind about not referencing my job interview or description and whatnot.
    – user137523
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 19:38
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    Every job contact I've seen contains the clause "and other duties as assigned." You can say "I'd rather not", certainly. And that may be all that's needed. You may have trouble outright refusing.
    – keshlam
    Commented Sep 19, 2023 at 14:04
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Am I right in thinking that they can't legally force me to do so?

In most legislations they would need you to sign a "release form" before they can publish a video or audio track. It's also possible that there is a global release already in your employment contract or part of the employee handbook. It would be useful to read on up on that. But chances are, they can't legally force you.

Regardless of the legality, it's unlikely that they would push the issue, should you decline. Doing a video shoot is a fair bit work. It would be stupid trying to do this with someone who doesn't feel positive about that. You really want enthusiastic people in front of the camera .

However, declining will not help your career. The company is willing to invest a lot of money and effort into the videos (these things are expensive!) and is willing to make you a center piece. Most people would be excited and flattered by the proposition. You are not, so it's clear that your heart is not into your current job and/or employer. Managers do take notice of this type of thing.

which I find very uncomfortable to think about.

Why? What exactly has you spooked here? Unless your company is doing something controversial or morally questionable, there is really no harm in being on the front page and many people would jump at the opportunity. It's only going to help your resume and future employment outlook. What specifically are you worried about?

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    Re your last question: some people have a legitimate personal security concern with being posted on the company's website, or simply want to have control over the use of their words, image and likeness. Or perhaps they don't want their statements about working for the company to remain on the website in the event that their feelings about the company change in the future.
    – alroc
    Commented Sep 15, 2023 at 23:26
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    @alroc Or perhaps they just don't want to. It may be hard to understand in this age of People magazine, paparazzi, social media, and "influencer" mania, but some people just don't want their image/voice/words blasted across the internet. No "legitimate concern" needed. Everyone has a right to privacy. Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 3:16
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    I think the conclusion "most people would jump at this, you don't, therefor you don't like your job" is incredibly shortsighted. Not to say it won't be the conclusion many managers will reach, but then they'll be shortsighted to. Some people just don't like seeing themselves on the internet.
    – Erik
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 7:03
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    I don't think it is true that "most people would be excited by the proposition". I think most people do not want to be famous.
    – wimi
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 11:26
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    "it's clear that your heart is not into your current job" you're drawing conclusions a bit quickly. There are many many valid reasons why not to want to appear in a public videos.
    – njzk2
    Commented Sep 16, 2023 at 15:13

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