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Thursday 8 March 2012 Will Clayton, Taylors Solicitors Social Media – The Ugly.

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Presentation on theme: "Thursday 8 March 2012 Will Clayton, Taylors Solicitors Social Media – The Ugly."— Presentation transcript:


2 Thursday 8 March 2012

3 Will Clayton, Taylors Solicitors Social Media – The Ugly

4 What does it cover ?

5 What is the Problem ? Where should the line be drawn between an employee’s private life and their responsibilities towards their employer ?

6 Tackling Inappropriate Private Behaviour Employers are not prevented from challenging conduct just because it happens outside of work so long as it could or is thought likely to affect the employee or his work: Singh v London Country Bus Services Ltd [1976]

7 Tackling Inappropriate Private Behaviour (cont’d) Relevant factors: –Potential readership ? –Was the communication private ? –Compatibility - with employer’s purpose / reputation or employee’s role –Criticisms of the employer, their employees, suppliers or customers

8 Tackling Inappropriate Private Behaviour (cont’d) Publicised examples: – Kirsty Cook-Bell – Virgin Atlantic cabin crew – Mr K Gosden –v- Lifeline Project (fair dismissal) – Whitham –v- Club 24 Ltd t/a Ventura (unfair dismissal – 20% contributory fault) –Preece –v- JD Wetherspoons plc (fair dismissal)

9 Inappropriate Private Behaviour - Disciplinary Action & Dismissal Source of complaint ? Treating as misconduct. “Burchell” test applies: –Reasonable belief in guilt; –Belief based on reasonable grounds; and –Before forming belief, the employer carried out as much of an investigation as was reasonable in the circumstances Range of reasonable responses test applies to every stage

10 Inappropriate Private Behaviour - Disciplinary Action & Dismissal (Cont’d) Challenges: –Use of private equipment e.g. Gosden –Proving employee’s responsibility for the postings / emails (if not admitted): e.g. Benning –v- British Airways plc; –Existing published disciplinary rules (VIP if asserting gross misconduct): e.g. Gosden & Preece –Consistency of Treatment –Privacy

11 Social Media Meets Employment Law Risk Areas Misconduct Defamation Brand or reputational damage Breach of confidentiality Public controversy Privacy / Human Rights Vicarious Liability Harassment Bullying Discrimination Productivity / Performance Safety Data Protection / RIPA / related regulations

12 What is the Answer ? Complete ban of all forms of social media use (in / out of work)? Unrestricted use? Something in between? Controlled use?

13 Social Media Policy – ACAS Research Paper Recommendations “All employers should have a [written] policy on internet / social media use…[which]...must set out clearly and explicitly the organisation’s expectations of and definitions of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and the consequences of violation. This should be consistent with the disciplinary procedures and cross- refer to them….”

14 Other ACAS recommendations Online conduct should not differ from off-line conduct….. The policy should be drawn up in consultation with staff / representatives… Policy on internet use also needs to be communicated Review policies on internet use / social media on a regular basis

15 Policy Considerations What kind of usage is allowed for business ? What kind of private use is not permissible ? Use of the business name / association with it How will / may the employer monitor employee’s use of social media platforms? Clearly communicate consequences of breaches

16 Policy Considerations (Cont’d) Data Protection: The Employment Practices Code RIPA Telecommunications (Lawful Business Practice) (Interception & Communication) Regulations

17 Any Questions?

18 Taylors Solicitors Employment Team Will Clayton – Partner – Head of Employment Emma Swan – Senior Associate Leanne Eddleston - Solicitor Rawlings House Exchange Street BLACKBURN BB1 7JN Ninth Floor 80 Mosley Street MANCHESTER M2 3FX Tel: 0844 8000 263

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