Social media is a big part of our lives. With around 30 million Facebook users and 15 million Twitter users in the UK, there is no denying it. 24 million Britons log on to Facebook each day!
As use of Facebook and Twitter becomes the norm, social media is blurring the boundaries between work life and personal life. Businesses have been able to create pages on Facebook since November 2007 and more and more businesses are using Twitter and LinkedIn as platforms to boost their profile and online impressions.
Nowadays employers increasingly review candidates for roles across all the social media platforms they are likely to be on, but it doesn’t stop there: some employers also check out their current employees on social media.
There have been several reported employment cases arising from employees’ use of social media. So to help you from falling foul of a Facebook faux pas or getting into Twitter trouble we have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts from our Employment Lawyers.
Do manage your privacy settings: Carefully consider whether you want to be Facebook ‘friends’ with your boss, colleagues or subordinates at work. If you do accept that friendship request, manage your privacy settings carefully.
Top tip: Do a dummy run to discover how effective your privacy settings across all the social media platforms you use are. Find out how much information a general member of the public could potentially find out about you.
However, be aware that no matter how high your privacy settings may be, anything you publish on Facebook or other social media is “out there.” If anyone can see it, they can screenshot it and pass it on, including to your employer. If you would be worried about a post being passed on like that, consider whether it’s a good idea to post it at all.
Do check your employer’s social media policy: You should read it and make sure you understand it.
Top tip: Remember that if your employer doesn’t have a social media policy that other workplace policies such as their IT Policy or Bullying and Harassment Policy may apply equally in the realm of social media.
Don’t be a bully: Online bullying of colleagues may be taken as seriously as other types of bullying and could result in a disciplinary hearing.
Don’t damage your company’s reputation: your own conduct may reflect on your employer so avoid swearing and never post offensive comments anywhere online.
Top tip: Think twice before bad-mouthing a colleague, or posting anything negative about work on a social media platform. Remember that having strong privacy settings doesn’t prevent someone from copy and pasting, or even taking a screenshot of what you have posted. Even if you take the post down it still exists.
Don’t post inappropriate photos: Remember that recruiters cannot ‘unsee’ the photo of you drunk and misbehaving so ensure your privacy settings are set high for any photos you or your friends choose to share of yourselves.
Don’t log in at work unless the employer’s policy allows for this: Going on social media accounts for personal use during work hours although many employers allow for use outside of core working hours such as lunchtime.
Don’t give away confidential information: You shouldn’t post anything which reveals confidential information about your clients or your business.
Discover more Top Tips for using Social Media and the Internet at Work.
The expert Employment Solicitors at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK can provide legal support for people with employment disciplinary hearings. For an initial consultation call us on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online.