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Thursday, 12 September 2019 16:18

Is your social media policy up to date...or CBA?

Social Media and its usage have evolved with breath-taking speed. Just a few years ago it was predominantly a platform for sharing pictures of your breakfast and your cat. These days Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube are integral to many organisations’ marketing and communication strategies. At HR Champions for example, we use Whatsapp daily for group communications. Even the president of the United States chooses to make globally significant announcements as tweets.

UK Law, both criminal and employment, seems to have been slow to respond to social media developments, relying instead upon the application of existing legislation. “Bringing the company into disrepute” has tended to be the default stance for errant social posts that come to the attention of managers. The law is slowly catching up however and now terms such as cyber-bullying have become part of the lexicon.

In terms of policing social media usage in the workplace, for a number of years now we have been advocating the implementation of a robust Social Media Policy. This has become even pertinent as recent cases involving social media at work have resulted in almost contradictory outcomes. Tribunal judges seem to be looking at claims involving social media on a case by case basis.

Whether a post has extended beyond a specific group now seems to form part of the judge’s deliberations and where a colleague has been offended by a post might not always seen as the fault of the original poster.

Notwithstanding, we should remember that social media is incredibly fast and effective at distributing news on a global scale; and it doesn’t discriminate. With the right connections, anybody can read anything that has been posted by anybody else. This means friends and associates of course, but also suppliers, competitors and customers.

A throw-away comment posted on Facebook or Twitter by an employee may appear fairly innocuous at first, but there is no telling what reputational damage could be done if that employee is connected to a customer, client or colleague who takes offence. Even when made on their own personal accounts, provision should be made in your policy in case comments can be associated with your organisation.

And don’t disregard video. A film that shows an employee flouting Health and Safety regulations for example, whilst being visibly connectable to his or her employer through perhaps, uniform or a branded vehicle, could open the company up to prosecution by the HSE. As well the fallback of bringing the company into disrepute and therefore subject to some form of discipline.

Simply having a policy in place isn’t enough of course. You must make sure it is clear and unambiguous and that your employees are aware of it. You should also be clear of what the consequences will be for contravening the policy.  It might be a good idea to remind employees that your social media policy exists from time to time. Including a reference to it in your staff induction process also makes a lot of sense.

Social media at work will be the hot topic for our forthcoming Employment Law Update breakfast meetings. We’ll give recommendations and ideas for what clauses you should consider including in your policy and also give some guidance on when and when not to use social media during recruitment.

You can book onto our breakfast meetings if you haven’t already done so hereor you can give us a call on 01452 331331.

Read 416 times Last modified on Friday, 13 September 2019 09:13

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HR Champions provide first class HR and Employment Law support and advice to UK businesses; operationally and strategically. If you're an employer you'll potentially need some, if not all, of the services we offer.

We deliver excellent management and soft skills training suitable for all organisational levels. We are ILM and City & Guild accredited and Ken Blanchard approved.  

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We have clients all over the UK but predominantly within about an hour's drive time of our offices; in Gloucestershire, South Gloucestershire, Worcestershire, Bristol and Swindon & Wiltshire.

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