Can I stop my employee from tweeting about the company?

 

Today, social media is everywhere. If you are under the age of 40, chances are that at the very least you have a Facebook account. You may also have a LinkedIn profile, a Twitter feed and perhaps even an old MySpace page is gathering dust in a forgotten corner of the internet.

Social media has led to revolutions in the Middle East, greater free speech in repressive regimes and launched dozens of people to fame and fortune. Businesses have also realised the potential of this new media; your employer probably has a Twitter account.

The Perils of Social Media

But, as with any innovation, there are problems. Recently, I spoke to an employer who had dismissed one of their staff after they Tweeted their dissatisfaction with the company. The former employee was suing them for unfair dismissal.

The employer needed an employment lawyer for tribunal representation, but they also wanted advice on how to avoid this situation happening again. The employment lawyer has suggested drawing up a social media policy and making compliance with it a part of the employment contract.

Social Media Policy

This is good advice for any modern business. Many people forget that Twitter, Facebook and the like are not as private as a conversation between friends and their words online may go much farther than they mean to. A social media policy, drawn up by a competent employment lawyer need not be draconian, but can offer protection to employers and clarify their position with their employees.

They are not, however, watertight protection. If the employee is whistle-blowing within the meaning of employment law, they are still protected from being dismissed. A good employment lawyer will be able to draft a policy that draws the distinction between exposing malpractice and simply venting frustration or maliciously attacking a legitimate business practice.

Having a clear policy, drawn up by an employment lawyer, makes good business sense. Even with a top level firm, the legal fees will be only a fraction of those necessary to successfully defend a claim in the employment tribunal.

If you run a business and are concerned about the legal implications of social media, Contact Law can find you expert lawyers who can help. Call us on 0800 1777 162 or fill in the web-form above to speak to one of our advisors.

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