Expert opinion: Social media – is your business managing the employment law risks?
The growth of social media has been explosive in recent years.
The advantages of this is that it can offer significant benefits to your business such as greater opportunities for your business to advertise and interact with its customers, suppliers, etc.
However, the growth of social media has its disadvantages in particular the increased employment law risks to your business.
What are the risks to your business?
- Loss of productivity – employees using social media excessively during working hours either on their work computers or on their smartphones.
- Damage to reputation – employees posting social media communications, for example derogatory comments about your business, customers, suppliers etc, which could damage your business reputation.
- Release of confidential information – employees posting social media comments about sensitive business related topics.
- Harassment and bullying – employees posting threatening and/or offensive social media communications such as photographs or comments about colleagues, which could lead to claims for discrimination and constructive unfair dismissal.
- What should you do to protect your business?
You should have a social media policy setting out what you regard as appropriate use and what you regard as inappropriate use of social media by your employees.
However, your social media policy must be clear about any boundaries that it sets for use of social media by your employees if you want to be able to discipline or dismiss an employee for breaching it.
For example, an employment tribunal found the dismissals of two employees for internet use was unfair because their employer’s policy allowed them to access the internet at work outside “core working times”, but their employer’s rules about core working times were unclear.
You should make all your employees aware of your social media policy and any breaches of your social media policy should be dealt with under your disciplinary procedure.
Rebecca Peterson is an employment law specialist at Wansbroughs in Devizes. Contact her on 01380 733300 or at firstname.lastname@example.org