ACAS Launches Guide to Social Network Use at Work

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ACAS has helpfully launched a guide to help employers manage social media policies as use of sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook during working time has risen dramatically and misuse of these sites for personal use during working time costs British firms billions of pounds a year. ACAS state that 55% of workers now use these sites at work either on computers or mobile phones and employers are claiming that many staff are abusing it by looking at their personal web pages instead of working and some post derogatory remarks about their workplace or colleagues and are buying and selling on line. The guidance suggests consulting with employees and trade unions if applicable about what is and is not acceptable and to make clear the consequences of breaching the policy which would become part of the contract of employment. John Taylor, Chief Executive of ACAS said: "Online conduct should not differ from offline conduct. Employees should assume that everything they say on the internet could be made public, and should think whether they want their colleagues or boss to read it. They might not mean it to, but what they post could end up being seen by billions of people worldwide." It is also recommended that employers regularly review their company internet and social media policies as technology and its use are evolving so quickly. If employers check on their employees’ use of internet and social media, it must be made clear what they will scrutinise and why. John Taylor added: "Heavy handed monitoring can cause bad feeling and be time consuming. A manager wouldn’t follow an employee down the pub to check on what he or she said to a friend about their day at work. Just because they can do something like this online, doesn’t mean they should." The document advises caution about disciplining workers for their online comments and encourages the promotion of the sites in marketing the organisation. It is imperative that companies draft social media policies so staff know exactly where they stand. Crispin Rhodes are here to assist you if you don’t already have such a policy in place and, if you do, then we recommend that you review it to ensure it is up to date with today’s technology and practice.

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