The legal lowdown: a summary of new guidance from ACAS on social media

Posted on 2 Feb 2012
Simon Fenton, Partner, Thomas Eggar LLP
Simon Fenton, Partner, Thomas Eggar LLP

Social networking and recruitment

  • ACAS suggests that at least two different recruitment channels are used.
  • Be careful if using social media to screen or vet candidates as you may run the risk of discriminating against candidates.
  • Employees should review their privacy settings.

Social networking and managing performance

  • Ensure you have a social media policy in place dealing with any restrictions on use.
  • Ensure any such policy is regularly updated.
  • Give clear guidance to employees who work remotely.
  • Use induction periods to establish acceptable standards.
  • Be clear what behaviour will be monitored and what disciplinary sanctions may be triggered.

Social networking and bullying

  • Ensure that any policies dealing with bullying and disciplinary procedures are updated to include guidance on social media.
  • Consider widening policies dealing with bullying to cover cyber bullying outside the workplace.
  • If instances of bullying are reported consider monitoring emails and other electronic activity (to comply with data protection rules employees must be advised they are being monitored).

Social networking and defamation, data protection and privacy

  • Consider developing a social media policy dealing with the use of blogs, tweets and other social media posts.
  • Make it clear that employees may face disciplinary action if they post comments that may damage the organisation’s reputation or post confidential information.
  • Decide whether to completely ban the use of social networking sites at work.

Social networking – disciplinary and grievances

  • Set clear guidelines on when employees are seen to be representing the company and what personal views they can express.
  • Include social networking in your disciplinary and grievance policy giving clear examples of what amounts to gross misconduct;
  • Weigh up consequences of employees actions – is there any actual harm to the organisation; Improve conflict resolution skills (for example consider using mediation where issues occur between colleagues).

What should a social media policy cover/who should be involved?

  • Network security.
  • Acceptable behaviour in relation to the use of the internet and emails, smart phones, social networking sites, blogs and tweets.
  • Provide examples of acceptable behaviours and unacceptable behaviours.
  • Definitions as to what is meant by confidentiality and what might be classed as defamation.
  • Consider consulting staff to ensure the policy is relevant for the organisation’s needs.
  • Raise awareness of the policy and advise employees where to find it.
  • Consider Human Rights and Data Protection issues when preparing the policy.
For more details contact: Simon Fenton, Partner, Thomas Eggar LLP simon.fenton@thomaseggar.com or 01635 571038