Not much time passes without an employment case on misuse of Facebook surfacing. Usually it is to do with an employee making unfortunate or downright rude comments about a customer colleague or employer. Usually they get sacked for doing so and an Employment Tribunal then has to rule if the dismissal was fair or not. Occasionally, and to everyone’s amusement, the employee tells the employer they are ill and then post pictures of themselves on Facebook wrestling sharks instead of sitting glumly in bed sucking a thermometer, or nursing a hangover.
Like many people (but not by any means the usual working population if the crowd density on my train this morning) I’ve come to work after the Christmas break, refreshed and raring to go. Well, no, but I’m here anyway.
I took a complete break from employment law over Christmas so if anything incredible has happened (government U-turn on employment law reform? Tax free amount payable on redundancy increased from £30,000 to £300,000? Vento awards uprated again?) I have missed it. Whilst I’m getting up to speed here are some random musings on stuff, the froth on the top of the cappucino if you like, before getting back into the real thing.
ACAS recently published a research paper on the use of social media in the workplace, called “Workplaces and Social Networking: The implications for Employment Relations“, as well as some very useful guidelines on how to draft a social media policy. It’s also about time that ACAS provided some guidance in what is becoming an increasingly difficult area.
Why aren’t you working?
Cyberslacking is the term given to people who spend their worktime surfing the net, doing their shopping, checking football scores or booking a holiday. In fact, doing anything on the net that isn’t related to their jobs. Like you reading this now, probably.
Civil servants in Northern Ireland have allegedly been busy shopping, reading football stories and even planning holidays in the sun while they were supposed to be working.
In my last article I wrote about the potential threats that face employers from the use by employees of social media and recommended that businesses have a social media policy.
To recap, the main threats to an employer from misuse of social media are;
- Reputational damage
- Breach of confidentiality
- Time wasting
- Liability to third parties
- Liability to other employees and to prospective employees.
It’s getting a bit scary. Recently I wrote about how I predicted that Gordon Turner’s serial-litigants.com search website for tracking down abusers of the ET system would be challenged (and it was, in Parliament). Then I wrote a piece about the need for employers to develop social media policies for use by their staff – and last weekend Vodafone hit the news when one of their employees misused the corporate Twitter account to write homophobic and sexist comments. Then Manchester United and Manchester City denied having banned their players from using social media. Finally the BBC tonight reports on a “cyberspace witch hunt” at the world’s formerly favourite airline, BA. 15 cabin crew members are reported to have been suspended for posting inappropriate comments on the Unite website. Unite retorts that the comments were on its Facebook page (so what?) and accused BA of “intimidation”. Clearly this blog is a happening place.
Everyone is talking about social media these days and no longer is it confined to the purely social. Many businesses are using it to promote themselves; good heavens, even lawyers are getting into it. But use of sites like Facebook, My Space, You Tube and micro-blogging sites like Twitter present multiple challenges to employers.
Following on from my recent post about the usefulness of Twitter, today’s cartoon by Alex in The Daily Telegraph provides his usual incision and wit into the subject of whether Twitter is any use at all. I’m converted to it, albeit I don’t find nearly enough time to “tweet”.
The recent poll I ran on this subject has given a resounding answer; most of you think Twitter is a waste of time.
I’ve got to admit my ignorance, I’ve only just discovered the verb “to dooce” and what a great word it is! There are various definitions but most include “to lose your job because of something that you wrote on your blog”. Rather incongruously, it can also mean to be afflicted with constipation, although if you were about to lose your job because you spilled the beans on your employer, it’s unlikely that constipation would be your main concern.