Thursday, 9 September 2010

Counting cost of online time wasters

Shropshire employees waste more than an hour every day on social networking sites while they’re at work.

And Lynsey Woolley, from our Employment Law Team, says such time wasting could cost businesses dearly unless they take action.

“It’s vital that employers tackle this issue as soon as possible, because social networking sites are only expected to grow in number. If your company fails to act, productivity will drop, and it could cost your business a great deal of money.”

Lynsey said the figures revealed in a poll by also showed that idling on social networking websites was costing British industry around £14 billion every year.

“The social networking phenomenon has really taken off in the last few months, and more and more people are relying on it as their preferred method of communicating with friends and colleagues. Employers must ensure they make their staff fully aware of what is and is not acceptable during work hours and on their company computer or phone.

“Suggest that they try to restrict their time on these websites to their lunch hour or breaks, and that anyone found spending excessive amounts of time online during the working day will face disciplinary action.”

Lynsey said it was also wise for employers to monitor just exactly what their staff were posting online.

“If it’s left unchecked, you could find that social networking is not only reducing productivity, it could also lead to confidential information being posted. And look out too for any derogatory comments being made by your employees about the company, your staff or even your customers, because once they’re online, the comments will be there for everyone to see.”

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Don't put your company's future at risk

Shropshire business owners are being warned that breaching environmental rules can damage the reputation of their company beyond repair.

Louise Clowes, from our Commercial Property Team, said an environmental prosecution often meant more than just a fine. “All environmental offences are subject to a fine, which can be unlimited in the Crown Court, and the more serious cases are also subject to a prison sentence. But that’s not all – being found guilty of harming the environment around your premises can have ongoing repercussions that you may never recover from.”

Louise said a conviction may also lead to local, and in some cases, national publicity.
“The Environment Agency publicises environmental convictions on its website as part of its name and shame policy, and the local press often sit in on criminal court proceedings. There will inevitably be damage to your business’ reputation, even if it is found not guilty at the end of the proceedings.”

She said a conviction could also mean your company’s insurance premiums would increase, and your ongoing relationship with the Environment Agency could be damaged.

“You may also find prosecutions and convictions can cause difficulties if you decide to try to sell your business, especially if the buyer asks for additional environmental warranties and indemnities. So it’s vital to take your environmental responsibilities seriously and not just dismiss a breach as nothing to worry about. The consequences could be far more reaching than you imagined, and could literally put the future of your business in jeopardy.”

Louise warned that company directors should also be aware they could be disqualified from acting as a director, and breaching that order would be a criminal offence.