Social Media – ‘To tweet or not to tweet’?
Or rather the ongoing question of exactly how much control do you, as an employer, have over an employees’ ever rising social media activity.
A recent case shed a little more light on this subject. An employee in the UK was dismissed after posting offensive and derogatory tweets on their private Twitter account. It is important to note that this was outside of work time and not work related.
Mr Law worked for Game Retail Ltd. And another vitally important factor in this case was he did allow around 65 Game stores to follow his private account and made no attempt to restrict visibility to his tweets.
After posting the offensive tweets he was reported by a fellow worker and, following an investigation, it was felt 28 tweets were offensive. Mr Law was suspended and ultimately dismissed for Gross Misconduct. Mr Law brought a claim for unfair dismissal – and won.
The Tribunal agreed Mr Law had been unfairly dismissed. They felt although offensive, it was in his own personal time and colleagues, suppliers and customers would not have necessarily seen the offensive tweets.
On appeal the EAT disagreed. They felt it was wrong to assume who had or had not seen the tweets. Particularly as he had allowed Game stores to follow him – who could have seen the offensive material.
Also, the nature of twitter is that it is known to be freely accessible to all unless restricted. This was a key fact as Mr Law had made no attempt to use the restriction setting available to him and had chosen to use one account for work and private use.
Cases can often be won or lost on specific facts. A key reoccurring factor though, is whether an employer has a strong clear policy directing its employees on the use of social media.
A recent survey stated employees spend an average of 39 minutes per working day on social media (excluding private use). Therefore a policy that clearly states what is, or is not, acceptable, and if a certain action(s) could result in disciplinary action is prudent.
Another business risk associated with social media is who owns valuable social media data when the employee leaves.
Again, having a clear policy will help your position as an employer to retain and protect key contacts and information.
I can work with you to identify any risks to your business and devise a Social Media policy and procedure to help manage these risks for you. Call for a free 30 minute consultation on how I could help you.
Hello, I’m Carole Thomson. I am a Freelance Senior HR professional and I founded HR Support for Business to give small and medium businesses access to a trusted HR Resource when they need HR support or advice.
If it concerns the management of your workforce then I can help you, whether a small issue or a larger redundancy, TUPE or change situation.
Just pick up the phone and contact me for a free 30 minute consultation so we can discuss how I can best help you.
Based on the past needs of small businesses I have also developed key HR packages.
These are designed to keep the quality of the HR resources and support high, but at a cost affordable to small businesses.
Why not have a look what is provided within the HR e-store:
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I hope you have found this employment update useful. As with all legislation it is best to have this laid out in your Employees Handbook.
A good Employee Handbook, with a strong Social Media policy and procedure will not only ensure your legal compliance, it is a guide for your managers and employees on how you want your business to operate.
Thereby protecting your business and laying the foundations for managing social media in your business.
This has been extracted from our 2015 1st Quarter Employers Newsletter
If you would like to read more about changes that may impact on your business now or later please just click here for this and previous issues.
Or why not call me and we can discuss how best I can help you.
Carole Thomson Chartered FCIPD, Tech IOSH
Senior HR Consultant
HR Support for Business
Tel: 078994 25916/ 079412 62492 /01295 788 579 firstname.lastname@example.org