Employers are well advised to develop a policy to establish clear expectations of their workforce and ACAS has produced a suite of guidance on the impact of social media on a range of HR issues such as employee privacy, bullying, disciplinary and recruitment.
An Institute of Employment Studies report commissioned by ACAS on the impact of social media on employee relations highlights issues and challenges for both employers and employees. For example a 2008 survey indicates that around 27% of UK employers check job candidates’ social media profiles as part of the screening process. However, the report suggests that the amount of personal information posted in such profiles which is generally not obtained in conventional applications and interview, for example ethnicity, religion or belief or sexuality, may make employers more vulnerable to accusations of discrimination in their selection processes. And what of employees who make negative references (thinly disguised or otherwise) to their employer in tweets or blogs?
As yet there is relatively little case law in the UK on the point but experience in other jurisdictions suggests that employers would be well-advised to have a clear social media policy – all the more so since there are no established “norms” in relation to the limits of what can be said online about ones employer.