Social Enterprise

Staff on Facebook and Twitter? Five things you need to know to avoid a social media lawsuit

Legal Eye: Tap into social media but minimise the liabilities...

...the harassing or discriminatory actions of their employees.

It is therefore perhaps unsurprising that 31 per cent of employers have taken disciplinary proceedings because of information an employee has displayed on a social media site about the organisation, and 21 per cent have taken disciplinary proceedings because of information an employee has displayed on a social media site about another individual.

3. Employees may intentionally, or unintentionally, leak confidential information on social media sites

The risk of disclosure of confidential information by employees is not a new risk but it is one that is magnified by the rise of social media sites. The informal nature of social networks can lead to employees dropping their guard and posting information that they would ordinarily have kept secret.

Some 34 per cent of employers in DLA Piper's study believe they are exposed to this risk. This type of disclosure has the potential to damage a business substantially, including diminishing competitive advantage, reducing the ability to preserve intellectual property rights and placing an employer in breach of a confidentiality agreement with a third party.

4. Monitoring may cross legal boundaries

Monitoring employees' social media usage may take place at any stage in the employment relationship. While, on the one hand, monitoring is essential to control the legal risks arising from social media, it can create its own legal liabilities if it is done in the wrong way or for the wrong reasons.

Key to reducing these potential liabilities is ensuring that employees are aware of the methods, and extent, of monitoring.

5. Comprehensive and bespoke social policy

A comprehensive and bespoke social policy backed up by training and enforcement will allow employers to effectively regulate social media usage by employees.

The research shows that just 25 per cent of employers have a stand-alone social media policy, suggesting that regulating social media is not yet high on the business agenda. However, a detailed, tailored social media policy is an essential tool for the effective management of social media.

Putting such a policy in place, and training staff on its terms, can prevent many of the risks. It can also facilitate effective disciplinary action where social media misuse occurs.

Kate Hodgkiss is a partner in DLA Piper's Employment, Pensions & Benefits practice. She advises on all aspects of employment law, encompassing practical advice and support on day-to-day issues, together with advice on major reorganisations and strategic change.

About

Kate Hodgkiss is a partner in DLA Piper's Employment, Pensions & Benefits practice. She advises on all aspects of employment law, encompassing practical advice and support on day-to-day issues, together with advice on major reorganisations and strate...

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