Friday, 14 August 2015

Social media - which side are you on?

Social media is changing the face of employment law – and employers need to stay one step ahead of the game. But what if an employee’s personal social media accounts start to conflict with your company’s business interests?

Employment law expert, Lubna Laheria, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said: “Social media is a fairly controversial aspect of employment law, and as technology evolves, it’s a sector that’s constantly changing.

“It has opened up great opportunities for companies when it comes to marketing and connecting with potential customers, clients or suppliers, but given that the vast majority of your staff are probably using social media in their personal lives too, what happens if conflicts arise?”

Lubna’s warning is particularly topical given a recent court case involving the retailer, Game. One of their managers, who was responsible for around 100 stores, was guilty of posting a number of offensive tweets.

He followed many of the company’s stores on Twitter from his personal account, mainly to monitor their activity, and 65 of the stores also followed him back, which meant they could see his personal tweets.

A fellow manager raised concerns over the tweets he posted, which insulted several community groups, and following a company investigation, the manager responsible was dismissed for gross misconduct.

“The Employment Appeal Tribunal decided that this was a reasonable dismissal, and they agreed that the tweets could not be considered private, particularly as the manager had followed 100 stores on Twitter ‘for a work purpose’,” said Lubna.

“Employers should make sure they have a detailed policy in place which clearly explains to staff what is expected of them when it comes to social media postings, and emphasise that personal and work-related accounts should be kept separate.

“Our employment law experts have wide ranging experience in tailoring social media policies that will meet the specific needs of your business, and it’s vital that employers protect their company’s reputation and brand by ensuring that staff follow the rules.”