Common employment law issues with social media

Whilst new social media can be utilised effectively to improve your business, it can also create a lot of damage too. The TUC famously referred to Facebook’s many profiles as ‘3.5 million HR accidents waiting to happen’.

You don’t want you company being dragged through the gutter following a slur on an employee’s Facebook page. Nor do you want your hard earned clients and candidates being taken when an employee leaves purely because they’re associated with an employee on LinkedIn. So what can you do to protect YOUR agency?

In reality whilst the technology may have changed, the legal principles of employment law remain the same. Whilst your employees are working for you, you should have clear policies in place detailing what is and is not acceptable. A staff member who brings the company into disrepute or damages its reputation via a networking site, can be disciplined in the same way as if it had happened via any alternative means.

Consider the following fictitious but not untypical scenario:

Barbara, Managing Director of the SME recruitment outfit “ Madeup Recruitment Ltd”, logged into her favoured social media site late one Sunday evening. She was shocked, and saddened, to see the following status update from one of her consultants:

“Barry Smith hates his job at Madeup Recruitment. Barbara the boss is a recruitmentalist and they rip-off all of their clients!” The next day Barry was fired immediately due to this virtual outburst.

Now, Barbara has just received the papers for an unfair dismissal claim by Barry. Furthermore, she has learned that Barry has begun working for a local competitor and has taken 400 LinkedIn contacts with him. Madeup Recruitment, Barbara realised with a shudder, had been left really rather exposed by social media.

Lawspeed is often asked to advise on these issues. We have a prevention is better than cure ethos, so you may want to protect your business in the following ways:

  • Introduce staff policies that regulate your employee’s ‘virtual behaviour’ – making clear what is, and what is not acceptable. The simplest way to do this is via an internet, email which sets out a communications policy, which can either be a stand alone document or contained within an employee handbook.
  • Include robust and effective restriction clauses in your contracts with employees. These can impose restrictions to protect your business after the employee leaves. However it is important to get the drafting spot-on to ensure that the terms are enforceable.
  • ‘Share’ your clients amongst a number of consultants, ensuring that contact points are not lost when an employee moves on.
    If you need assistance with your internal employment issues, or with regard to your agency workers, CALL US NOW for a free preliminary discussion about how we can help you. 01273 236 236.

For more information, please contact Lawspeed on 01273 236 236

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