Specialist employment lawyer urges organisations to whip their social media policies into shape

4th June 2013

A Midlands-based lawyer who specialises in employment law is urging organisations to implement social media policies following several high-profile cases where employees have been dismissed after using social networking sites in the workplace.

Simon Bond, a lawyer Higgs & Sons' employment team, has spent many years advising organisations, both large and small, on HR policy and employment law .

"In the most recent case, the DVLA fired an employee after he was caught using Facebook in the office on his own mobile phone," explains Simon.

"The organisation has previously dismissed other members of staff for making inappropriate comments and jokes on Facebook which directly mentioned the DVLA, its staff and customers, but this latest dismissal suggests the employee was sacked even though he had not criticised his employers on the site.

"This case seems harsh and employers without the same strict policies and rules as the DVLA should be wise not to follow suit in similar circumstances."

Given the prevalence of social media Simon agrees that it is imperative for a business to implement a sound procedure about what is, and is not appropriate. However employers are being warned not to take a draconian approach and are being urged to embrace digital channels thereby encouraging staff to use social networking sites to promote their employer's business and engage with customers.

Simon continues: "We regularly hear about employees being disciplined or sacked because of bad practice on social networking sites and yet this is still an extremely grey area of the law. By setting clear policies and procedures, members of staff will learn what is, and isn't acceptable, and it will be much more transparent for employers having to undertake disciplinary action.

"Every business is different and each business will find a policy that suits them and fits in with their overall goals and vision, but it is vitally important that organisations recognise the importance of employees using social media and are committed to supporting their right to interact online." 

Higgs & Sons works from two offices in the Black Country - Waterfront Business Park in Brierley Hill and Kingswinford. The firm employs more than 200 people, which includes over 100 specialist lawyers.

For specialist advice for your business relating to social media and employment, contact Simon on 0845 111 5050 or email simon.bond@higgsandsons.co.uk


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