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The workplace and Social media

social media
Do you know where you stand when it comes to social media - what could possible go wrong?
Social media is everywhere nowadays - everywhere you look, someone is updating their Facebook or Twitter feed, even businesses large and small are agreed that social media can be an invaluable marketing tool, so what could possibly go wrong?

Well, it’s easy to forget that social media can affect the way your company is perceived by the people outside, customers, clients and even prospects.
Amanda Jeffries
Amanda Jefferies, is a specialist employment solicitor and director of Bradley and Jefferies Commercial Solicitors. She advises clients on all aspects of employment law, from drafting contracts of employment and other policies and procedures, to defending all manner of Employment Tribunal claims. She has wide experience of presenting workshops and seminars and is widely regarded as a leading speaker upon employment issues and has spoken at prestigious events such as the ACAS annual conference. You can visit the webite here or call her on 01332 221722.

It’s quite possible that something an employee does, or posts in their own time may make its way out into the wide public domain and who knows who it could get into the hands of then; customers, prospects, as before or even competitors? This can cause all sorts of problems.

Social media blurs the boundaries between an employee’s personal and professional life. Check your own social media feeds, how many times have you seen remarks like, “…didn’t finish work until 8pm tonight, I hate my job!” or “My boss is an utter idiot!” or “We lost the Briggs contract today, damn!”?

Remarks like these, made innocently, all carry implications and risks for a company; for instance, the comment, “My boss is an idiot” could be seen as bullying or harassment, which the company has a duty to prevent as much as possible. It also demonstrates a lack of respect for the line manager which can also infer aspersions on the ethos of the business as a whole. Announcing the loss of an important contract could amount to a breach of confidentiality, not to mention the useful information that a competitor might pick up, especially if any further details are posted which can often happen if other employees chose to add comments.

There is no law in the UK which specifically governs the use of social media so it is vital to have a clear policy in place governing the use of social media, both in and out of the work place; employees need to remember that their behaviour wherever they are can have implications for their company. Here are three questions that will need to be addressed in any robust social media policy:
  • Are you going to permit the use of social media sites at work; if so, when? I.e. break times only?
  • Are employees to be allowed to use company IT equipment, or only their own tablets/smart phones, etc. When using social media?
  • How will your social media policy integrate with your other policies on say, confidentiality, bullying and harassment?

Decide what is and what is not, appropriate when using/posting on social media and make it absolutely clear what the consequences will be for breaching the policy.

As always, if you need help or advice formulating a policy, give us a call. We are always happy to discuss your requirements and to agree a fixed fee with you for drafting an appropriate policy where required.

September 2015

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