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HR News

Social Media In The Workplace

Is it legal for an employee to get fired because of private messages?

Social media in the workplace is important for companies to develop marketing strategies, brand awareness, sales opportunities and recruitment etc. Placing company posts on social media is a job in itself and has provided an opportunity for many self-employed people to generate income. How often to do you hear that an organisation “uses someone else for that.”

However, what about the privacy aspects of workplace social media? The implementation of GDPR has added new rules. One must not forget the Human Rights Act 1998 either. So can a company be liable for an inappropriate post by its employees?

The recent Forbes v London Heathrow Airport case ruled that as the employee shared a racist post on her personal page, without using work equipment, outside of work hours It was not lawful to consider London Heathrow Airport responsible for her views.

In contrast, a tribunal case being between Paul Wells and Roberto Solari, and PNC Global Logistics was based on gross misconduct via ‘sexist’ comments being made about female employees in the Company. These comments were made within a private WhatsApp group chat.

The lawyer for Wells and Solari has claimed the use of the personal app is an “infringement of right to privacy” as there was “no policy permitting the employer to inspect the Whatsapp chat”. The lawyer for the Company has suggested that the messages were sent during “business hours” and were therefore “a breach of duty”. It should also be noted that the two men are also arguing that the Company is using this as an excuse not to pay them the £300,000 worth in shares they hold together!

Social media is important and employers must focus on both the positive and harmful effects it can have on the organisation. A clear policy and training is necessary to ensure that there is a ‘line in the sand’ about its use in the workplace. Contact Paul at Coppice HR (paul@coppicehr.com / 07814 008478) to develop this further and ensure that all of the company’s and employee’s social media posts are the benefit of the organisation.  Ultimately, this will allow you to focus on your business and we will look after your HR.



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