Social Media Monitoring of Employees
The Pitfalls and how to avoid them
You might be thinking,isn't all social media in the public domain, so what harm is there in looking at the social media postings of an employee? We look at the pitfalls that an employer who checks out the Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media pictures, posts, opinions and status of their employees, potential or current, can encounter. We examine social media in the workplace.
Social media monitoring and recruitment
If you intend to use Social Media Monitoring in the recruitment process, it is important that you inform all candidates of this, right from the start. All information obtained and held from searching a candidates social profile is subject to the laws on data protection.
For more see GDPR
A major pitfall to social media monitoring of potential employees is the risk of breaching anti discrimination legislation, in particular, the Equality Acts
For more on the Equality Acts, See
If you find out, for example, the sexual orientation, and/or religion of a candidate and then fail to offer them a position, you will need to be able to show that the failure was for a genuine reason, which had nothing to do with any of the nine grounds under which discrimination is unlawful, which include sexual orientation and religion.
The following are matters which you should consider:
Is there a valid reason for it?
Does the job status warrant it?
It may be necessary for a high profile executive position, which could reflect on the business. Is it really necessary for a relatively anonymous factory floor position?
Tell before you do it
As stated already. Inform all candidates in advance.
Do not risk breaching the Equality Act
Social Media Monitoring and existing employees
The whole area of social media monitoring of employees is intertwined with General Data Protection Regulation, Equality Acts as well as the duty to prevent bullying at work. There is an increasing rise in the instances of cyber bullying. If you fail to take steps to prevent it from occuring in the workplace, then you may find yourself liable for the actions of your employees.
There is a real need for a Social Media Policy in the workplace. If you do not already have one, then you should get one. Don’t wait for the disaster to happen and then fix it. Prevention is always better than cure.
Protecting your business
As an employer you have a right to protect your business reputation, equipment and work process. Unauthorised time spent by an employee on social media platforms, is time wasted. You should consider a ban on all employees accessing the internet, including by definition, all social media platforms, during working hours. You could then make exceptions for employees whose role involves interaction with the internet for the benefit of the business.
Who owns the social media account. As a business owner, you should make sure that you have a clause in the employment contract confirming that the business is the owner of all social media accounts. This avoids the situation happening, where an employee leaves, taking the accounts and access codes, with them. You risk losing all of the contacts built up through social media.
Protecting your employees
As mentioned earlier, an employer owes a duty of care towards their employees. They are also responsible for the actions of their staff acting in the normal course of their employment. This means that you have to be seen to have taken adequate steps to prevent bullying at work, in this instance cyber bullying, bullying or harassment. The best defence to an allegation of allowing bullying in the workplace through social media or other online activity, is to have a social media policy which prohibits it. The addition of a Dignity at Work policy, further strengthens the employer’s position. A strong Disciplinary Procedures policy should include directions on what to do in the event of a breach of the social media policy.
Where can I get a good social media policy?
We provide a social media policy document which you can adapt to suit your particular circumstances. You can download the document only and amend it yourself. We also provide an expert review service. If you opt for this we will review your final draft social media policy before you publish it to make sure that it meets your needs.
For more see Social Media Policy
For more see Writing a Social Media Policy
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