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Social Media – How do companies manage tweets, blogs and posts?

30th June, 2011

The use of social media has risen dramatically in the last 5 years. At the start of the millennium hardly anyone had heard of social media let alone Facebook, Bebo, Linked In and Twitter, but these sites are now used everywhere by (nearly) everyone.

In our previous article posted in the Tribunal on 3 May 2011, we set out the facts of the case of Preece v JD Wetherspoons PLC ET/2104806/10. In this case a manager was found to be in breach of an employer’s email and internet policy, which specifically referred to employees’ use of media such as Facebook whilst at work.

A recent study by Protiviti Inc has revealed a surprising fact. Despite widespread use of social media sites, 39% of people who had access to social media did not have access to a social media policy governing its use from their employer.

There are several risks to employers which they need to manage concerning social media usage which relate to: discrimination, use of confidential information, whether the information is being used to inform a recruitment decision, data protection during employment, loss of productivity, loss of reputation and privacy.

These risks have the potential to result in claims being made against the employer, for example discrimination cases, breach of the Data Protection Act Code and privacy claims under the Human Rights Act 1998. The cost to employers in time, legal costs and any fine/compensation awarded could be substantial and have a negative effect on the business.

The belt and braces approach would be to block access to any social networking site at work, but the workforce could still use such sites outside of work and the posts may still affect the employer’s business.

Another more commercially sensible approach is to implement a social media policy to minimise the risks set out above. Aaron and Partners Employment Team will draft a bespoke social media policy for your business for a low fixed fee.

Even if employers do have a social media policy, many employers have not regularly updated these policies. The lack of the employer reviewing their social media policies could mean that the policy would be unenforceable, if the employee/worker did engage in inappropriate activity. If your business already has a social media policy we will review it for FREE, and advise if any changes are required.

Please do not hesitate to contact us to arrange for us to review/draft a social media policy for your business, or should you have any other queries on the use of social media in the workforce.

Helen Watson
Employment Team Leader
01244 405 565
[email protected].

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