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Three little pigs play with fire: The internet is watching; employees and employers take note!

Published 07 July 2015

Footballers misbehaving is nothing new but what the latest case highlights is a growing trend which employers are being forced to deal with.

Three players from Premier League side Leicester City who it is claimed appeared in a racist sex tape have apologised for their behaviour after footage reportedly shared online hit the headlines at the weekend.

Extensive use of social media and smartphone apps to capture every aspect of modern day life means trouble is now at an employee’s fingertips.

The immediacy and wide audience available to view an inappropriate online post can create serious problems for an employer in the real world.

It has the potential to inflict significant damage to the reputation of the business or lead to claims of discrimination, bullying or harassment.

The workplace and social media have become intertwined as research has revealed around 30 per cent of employees have posted a work status update and 50 per cent have befriended a colleague.

The lengths an employer can go to in order to monitor an employee’s use of social media is regulated by law.

However it is essential to have a social media policy in place making it expressly clear any inappropriate online conduct resulting in a negative impact on the business is unacceptable, and may result in disciplinary action.

The policy should be clear, accessible and document standards of conduct and performance expected and give examples of appropriate and inappropriate use.

It is also important to be open and clear regarding what level of scrutiny will take place at work.

A number of cases relating to Facebook posts have come before Employment Tribunals and in December last year the first case regarding the misuse of Twitter by an employee went before the Employment Appeal Tribunal.

The cases illustrate how the rise of social media is creating substantial problems for employers, as employees' use of these sites is distorting the lines between ‘private’ and ‘public’ and complicating the status of conduct related to work, but taking outside of the workplace.

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For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 

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