This new book provides an overview of the various legal issues that can arise in the workplace through the use and application of social media.
It explains the application of the law to the use of social media in the workplace, providing employers and their advisers with guidance on establishing and maintaining IT and social media policies.
The book also sets out the preventative steps that can be taken by employers to safeguard themselves and their employees from risk. Such risks include employee behaviour via social media that could give rise to disciplinary or dismissal procedures or which might impact on other employees; the need to safeguard data and the extent to which employers are able to monitor social media usage by their employees; and the risks that social media poses in respect of other claims, such as those pursuant to the Protection from Harassment Act 1997.
Recommended reading for solicitors and barristers advising companies, charities, local authorities and universities. It is also suitable reading for in-house lawyers and company secretaries advising on best practice.
- The Social Media and Internet Use at Work: An Overview
- IT and Social Media Policies and Internet Monitoring
- Disciplinary Issues and Investigation
- Whistleblowing and Regulatory Issues
- Analysis of the Protection from Harassment Act 1997 (“PfHA”)
- Cyber-Harassment and Bullying in Employment Law
- Intellectual Property Rights in Social Media
- Controls and Checks on Social Media Presence
- Social Media and Comparative Law
- Future Developments
"Social Media plays such an important part of peoples' lives, including in the workplace, that is surprising that there has been no definitive work on it's employment law issues. There have been many articles focusing on recent cases and narrow issues- but nothing which pulls it all together. At last we have it. Social Media in the Workplace by Chris Bryden and Michael Salter fills that gap admirably. It is, as its sub-title states, first and foremost, a handbook; and so will be considerable practical use to both employment law practitioners and HR." New Law JournalClick here to read the full review
Despite the omnipresence of smartphones, people are still being caught on camera doing stupid things. Theever-present mobile has empowered ordinary individuals in a way never beforeseen to record moments for posterity, be they defining moments of history,family events or the actions of others. The prevalence of social media also facilitatesthe dissemination of this material incredibly easily, and often to thedispleasure of the party recorded.
This applies just as much to a repressiveregime unhappy at human rights abuses being exposed or a city solicitorrecorded calling supporters of Liverpool football club “scouse scum idiots” onYouTube and then compounding the error by inviting them on Twitter to “crawlback to your horrible Merseyside home”. Whilst the solicitor in question hasstated that he feels “suitably chastened” , the video and post remain and thenumber of people watching them, or becoming aware of them, grows. Removal ofsuch footage is likely impossible and as a result he will always be tainted bythis association.
It is this permanent nature ofsocial media, and the ease of forwarding, liking or retweeting that media thatmakes it (by whatever platform) such adanger to those who find themselves its unwelcome object. It is as much of adanger to their employers, whose reputation can be affected by their employee’sactions, regardless of whether they take place in or outside of work. The ensuing reputational damage canpotentially undermine a career or years of careful brand development.
Any argument that a post which has since been disseminated was intended to be private is unlikely to succeed: some media can never be private; if you give an interview to a YouTube channel or if the entire purpose of the post is to raise awareness then clearly there is no conceivable argument that the material in that item could be a private communication.
A similar approach is emerging from the case law on social media misuse, where courts appear to be reluctant to accept arguments that the author believed such communications to be “private” owing to relevant privacy settings contained on the social media profile. The approach of the courts appears to be that that any such belief in privacy is a fallacy in light of the ease of re-publication.
Clearly, an employer cannot control its employees’ online behaviour 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just as it cannot so control their “real world” behaviour. However, employers would be mistaken to think there is nothing they can do. The proper aim for an employer is to establish a culture, similar to an anti-discrimination or bribery culture as envisaged respectively by the Equality Act and Bribery Act (both of 2010),whereby employees are made aware of the importance and impact of social media on the business and its most valuable assets: its staff; and the ensuing potential for action to be taken against them.
Whilst misguided acts by an employee, such as those identified above, can never be totally negated, the employer can seek to insulate itself from claims and resultant reputational damage that arise, by constructing schemes, procedures and policies addressing the risks posed and ensuring that relevant action and training is taken.
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