Social media is a term often used for Internet based tools which are used on tablets, smartphones and laptops to enable people to stay connected with each other all over the world by enabling them to interact with each other. This allows people to share ideas, views and information.
The evolution of social media has impacted the way employers, employees and even job applicants communicate. It affects how companies control their reputation, promote brand awareness and how colleagues interact with each other. Consequently, it has also distorted the boundaries that previously existed between work and home.
It has been estimated that a misuse of social media and Internet by workers cost billions of pounds every year. In addition some employers have had to deal with social media connected issues such as, cyber bullying, freedom of speech and invasion of privacy.
The Human Rights Act 1998 – Article 8 – mentions that a right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence. This law suggests that employees must have a reasonable expectation of maintaining privacy at workplaces.
The Data Protection Act 1988 covers how information can be collected, handled and misused about employees and potential employees. Information commissioner’s office has also published an employment practice code that employers can refer to.
The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 covers the extent to which a workplace is allowed to covert surveillance.
Action for employees
It is important that employees are aware of the privacy settings of their social networking platforms and consider how much access they are willing for co-workers to see of their online activity.
Developing a policy
It is important that employers develop a policy which sets out what is acceptable and what is not at work when using emails, internet, smartphones and social media websites. These policies should be able to give clear guidelines for an employee on what they can and what they must not say about their organisation. Any policy formulated by the employer must be clear throughout regarding distinction between business and personal use of social media accounts. If a company decrees that it allows a limited use of social media in the workplace, then it must be clear as to how this works in practice.When formulating a policy for the use of social media; employers, unions, HR managers, staff members and members of staff representatives must agree to all details. The policy must seek to ensure that employees don’t feel silenced, managers and staff feel protected from online bullying, women are safeguarded from sexual harassment and the organisation over all feel confident that its reputation is safe.
It is important for an employer to apply the same standard of conduct when it comes to online matters just the way he would have in offline matters. In order to help an organisation in giving a quick response, the employer must consider the nature of comments and their potential impact on the organisation. Employers must also try to give examples of what can be deemed as defamation and what penalties will be imposed. The employers must also ensure that they are clear in pointing out what is regarded as confidential information in the organisation.
Blogging and tweeting
If an employee is representing a company online, it is important that the employer sets appropriate rules regarding the type of information the employee is allowed to disclose. It is important that the employee is trained and aware of the relevant legislation regarding public interest disclosure and legislation on copyrights.
Using email at work
Email is an integral part of working lives for the majority of working people. There must be clear rules on how a staff uses their work email accounts, whether they should be monitored and if there are any time limits for deleting emails that are not required for business purposes.
In addition to that, an organisation may also want to give guidance to their staff on how you can make the best use of emails and ensure that emails do not create an unnecessary stress on employees. It is suggested that organisations give their staff members email management strategies to manage their inboxes effectively. Some other areas include encouraging staff to use the delay send function in their emails when they are sending an email outside of work hours.
If you have been accused of social media misuses our no win no fee Employment Law Solicitors can assist with all types of claims . Naturally, we pride ourselves on providing the best possible service to the highest standards, we offer employment law advice on all problems. Call us on 0800 756 6605 or 020 3923 4777
Tom Street qualified as a solicitor in 2003 and has over 20 years experience in employment and litigation law. He studied law at the University of Manchester before undertaking the legal practice course at the College of Law in Guildford, going on to complete his legal training at a firm in Chancery Lane, London. Once fully qualified, he moved to a niche litigation practice in the City of London.
In 2010, Tom set up his own legal practice, Tom Street & Co Solicitors and as part of this, in accordance with his strongly held objective to provide everyone with an easy pathway to justice he established the online portals Do I Have A Case? and Tribunal Claim. These websites are trading names of Tom Street & Co Solicitors.