Firms Urged to Restrict Staff Use of Social Networking Websites
Firms urged to restrict staff use of social networking websites
Employers risk damage to their firm’s reputation if they fail to restrict staff from using social networking websites inappropriately, law firm Pinsent Masons has warned.
“The environment we have now is such that people can post content onto the Internet themselves via sites like YouTube that can potentially damage the reputation of their employer,” said Pinsent Masons’ employment law specialist, Ben Doherty. “Small firms can download a free policy on email and Internet use, including the use of social networking websites, at Out-Law.com.
“Many businesses have IT policies that were written only with email in mind and prior to the rise of social networking sites,” added Doherty. “This leaves many firms unable to adequately deal with staff who misbehave on the web. Employers need to review all their policies and keep them updated to cover new developments such as social networking sites.
“Problems arise when employers are relying on a policy that was drafted years ago when Internet and email use was first becoming an issue,” he said. “These old IT policies only cover what employees can say in emails and what Internet sites can be visited.”
Doherty added that the issue employers now face is that their policies are not prescriptive enough.
“In the event of a disciplinary hearing for inappropriate content uploaded to Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, employees can cite the fact that the company policy on email and Internet makes no mention of social–networking sites,” he said.
Federation of Small Businesses spokesman Simon Briault, agreed that employers need to regularly update their staff Internet and email policies.
“SMEs have to keep up with the curve when it comes to new websites and new ways of using computers,” he said. “If a policy is in place, employers have something in black and white that they can use to ensure employees don’t misuse email or Internet sites like Facebook.”