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Social Media In The Workplace: What To Look Out For

Paul Kelly, Head of Employment Law at Blacks Solicitors LLP, discusses social media in the workplace and the ‘dos and don’ts’ that employers and employees need to bear in mind.

“With a number of high profile cases recently appearing in the media, attitudes towards social media in the hospitality and leisure industry are becoming stricter. For example, Danny Baker was recently sacked by the BBC for his controversial Tweet regarding the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s baby.

“This is only the latest in a series of controversial Tweets made by well-known people that have resulted in backlash and this is being translated into the social media policies and guidelines of catering and hospitality organisations.

“Although difficult to monitor efficiently, there are certain things that can be done to keep the reputation of a business and its employees intact.”

Don’t let the past come back to haunt you

“With an increasing number of employers checking the social media accounts of potential employees before offering a job, it’s important to be aware of the tone of posts and Tweets even if they are a few years old.

“As there is currently no legislation that prohibits employers from investigating a prospective employee’s social media profile, a good CV and strong performance in interview isn’t always enough when faced with inappropriate comments and embarrassing or explicit photos. People need to regularly look back over their social media posts to make sure they’re happy with the tone of their accounts.”

Make policies clear

“It’s recommended that employers and managers develop policies that sets out what they see as acceptable or unacceptable behaviour on social media at work. Employees should be aware that breaking these guidelines could potentially lead to disciplinary action.

“The policy should set out what employees can and cannot say about the organisation, other employees or customers, and if there are set times that employees can use social media, for example their lunch break. Employees shouldn’t feel as though they can’t use social media at all for fear of repercussions, but protecting against online bullying and harassment is crucial.”

Protect workplace social media accounts

“While policies should be in place for employees using their personal accounts, employers should be mindful of those used for work purposes. Whether it’s being used for community management or paid social posts, organisations need to make sure that employees handle accounts appropriately.

“This even extends to employees who leave the business, especially if this was on bad terms. In this situation the relevant person’s access should be deleted and all passwords should be changed to make sure the former employee can’t hack the account and potentially affect the reputation of the business.”

Disciplinary procedures

“When considering a disciplinary procedure for an employee that has breached workplace social media policies, an employer needs to make sure that the same standards of conduct are applied as if it were an offline issue.

“The organisation should consider the intent behind any posts or comments made and the impact they could have on the business’ reputation or the feelings of another employee or customer. It’s a good idea for an employer to share examples of what may be considered inappropriate to make procedures as simple as possible to implement and follow.”

For more information on this issue please contact Paul Kelly on PKelly@lawblacks.com.

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