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Employment Lawyer: Firms Must Be Upfront About Social Media

Policies Must Be Clearly Communicated


A leading employment lawyer at Irwin Mitchell is warning businesses to ensure their social media policies are clearly communicated to staff to avoid being dragged into unfair dismissal claims.

A paramedic in the US has recently launched a landmark legal action against her former employers after she was dismissed for comments she posted on Facebook about her boss.

Although the message was posted in her own time and on her own computer, she was dismissed and is now taking legal against her former employers. Many people have been sacked for comments posted online and businesses need to be wary of the consequences.
Fergal Dowling, Partner in the Employment Law team at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, said: “Abuse of social media can be grounds for discipline, up to and including termination of contract, depending on the level of abuse, and the policies in place at the company. The important thing is to make sure that everyone knows what the clear boundaries are should there be any need for discipline. 

“Employers and HR departments need to be upfront and honest with their employees about their policies. Many firms may ban social media altogether but in some industries that is simply not viable, and some creative industries rely on social media.

“Businesses should review employment policies and consider adding new terms dealing with specific issues such as restrictions on disclosing company information, rules governing any mentions of the company or its clients, and any concerns about work issues, should be dealt with internally rather than blogging or posting about problems on Facebook and Twitter.”