Legal Services Secretary – Report to Branch regarding Social Media.
Over the last couple of years, cases have been brought to court where individuals have found themselves in trouble as a result of comments that they have made on Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. This relates to when somebody posts something online that brings their employer into disrepute, or has a detrimental effect on the good name of the business that they are employed in. A number of people have been dismissed following these comments and the legal position of this has obviously been challenged.
Further developments have been made in relation to the law this year, regarding social media, for both personal and professional use at work. Although the TUC have recently declared that people “should have a right to privacy in the workplace” (LRD, Feb 2016), the reality of the legal position is that most cases are being decided on the employer’s interests and whether monitoring of employees posts and comments on Facebook/Twitter is proportionate. Royal Mail has policies on social media use, and there are copies of these available in the Branch office.
The business has to ensure that it is protected from damage to its reputation, internal confidential information being leaked externally, and potential claims for discrimination. As such, the policy reads that: Employees are personally liable for what they communicate…and there is no such thing as a private social media site. Furthermore, they should avoid saying anything that might damage Royal Mails reputation and brand.
The Royal Mail policy is very clear when it comes to the principles of using social media in work and personal lives, and states that employees must not use social media to make defamatory or discriminatory comments; neither should they use it to harass or bully. And that employees should not display behaviour online which may cause offence to other employees, customers or clients or Royal Mail group…. The business policy also states that you should let you manager know if you see content on social media that could be harmful to Royal Mail’s business.
The advice is to be very vigilant about what you post online, as it has the potential to remain online for a very long time, and once posted, loses any status of a ‘private conversation’. You should consider if the post could be used against you in the future, consider if you would feel comfortable saying the same thing offline as you would online, and do not put yourself or the business at risk when using social media.
Dave Westbrook 29/03/2016.