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How To Ensure Your Business’s Social Media Policy Works For You & Your Employees

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How To Ensure Your Business’s Social Media Policy Works For You & Your Employees

How To Ensure Your Business’s Social Media Policy Works For You & Your Employees
October 14
12:57 2015

Laura Morrison CROPPEDSocial media has become a crucial marketing tool for leisure and tourism businesses, but it can be a minefield when it comes to personal use by employees.

Laura Morrison sets out some key steps a business can take to protect itself and its staff, and examines potential areas at risk of disciplinary procedures…

What are the pitfalls for managers in dealing with misuse of social media by staff?

Firms should be wary of overreacting. While you may be furious at the actions of an employee which could jeopardise years of careful marketing, there have been cases in which dismissals for social media activity have been deemed unfair, usually because the business has not considered what harm, if any, has been done.

Allegations or suspicions of misconduct must be properly investigated through established procedures, even if on the face of it they appear clear cut; similarly, consideration should be given as to how significant the damage to the business’s reputation actually is.

What is the best way to protect against social media misuse?

Tourism and leisure businesses should put in place a clear social media policy which sets out their reasonable expectations on social media use by employees.

Covering the use of social media both within and outside the workplace, such a policy will hopefully prevent a disastrous tweet or Facebook post by laying down clear guidelines and reminding staff of the possible consequences of their actions. The policy would also be key to handling any suspected misuse. Likewise, the possible consequences of various kinds of breach should be clearly stated.

What should the policy prohibit?

Any activity which breaches other company policies, such as your equality and diversity policy. Employees should also be reminded of the need to protect confidential information. The policy should include information on any monitoring of social media use that management may undertake.

Is it appropriate for managers to befriend employees on social media?

This can lead to problems if line managers befriend or follow employees who they manage via social media.

Employees facing disciplinary action might be able to argue that a manager condoned their behaviour if it was visible to them on social media and yet no action was taken at the time.

How should the policy be implemented?

Once you have a suitable policy in place, make sure it is brought to employees’ attention. If employees do not know that the policy is there, or what it contains, it will be of little use either as a deterrent or in subsequent disciplinary proceedings.

Can a breach of the social media policy lead to dismissal?

Yes, and the policy should spell out the circumstances in which that would be the case. There have been dismissals for actions on social media in various industries and some have been upheld by the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT).

However, the EAT has not provided general guidance on the matter, as social media misuse cases generally rest on their facts.

Laura Morrison is an employment lawyer with McLay Murray Spens LLP, and is a member of the firm’s food and drink team.


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Catering Scotland

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