Clear policies and training needed for social media, says Peacock

Thu, 10 May 2012

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Clear corporate policies and training are the key to making sure recruiters and employers, and their employees, do not fall foul of legal issues relating to use of social media at work, Sarah Peacock, employment partner at solicitors Blake Lapthorn, tells Recruiter.

Peacock notes that “the boundary between work-life and private-life was beginning to get a bit hazy in 2004”, and has now become much more so – with alcohol and drug use in one’s private life often showcased on social media.

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Speaking to Recruiter, she warns against use of social media screening in the recruitment process, saying: “It is quite dangerous to do that… you’ve got to be really careful of all the implications that come from that – discrimination is a particular concern.”

She notes that information such as that about someone’s social or family life or age, ethnicity or sexual, which may be published on social media, must not be used in recruitment decisions. If they are, employment tribunals will make an “inference” as to where that information was gathered.

Further issues with using social media screening in recruitment include data protection and storage, as well as data use permission.

“My view,” Peacock says, “is that it can be better not to have that information” – but also notes that such use is likely to increase.

Speaking to Recruiter on the launch of Blake Lapthorn’s ‘Social Media, Drugs and Alcohol’ report, which shows that only 22% of the 274 UK firms surveyed offer any sort of social media or networking sites, Peacock concludes: “I think that the big thing is training and having clear policies in place and that was the thing that was distinctly lacking… by having policies you’re making it very clear what is accepted and what you should be doing.”

However, the report did show that the recruitment industry is ahead of the pack as far as social media training goes – of the eight companies in this sector surveyed, half had training in place, with only banking and finance (47%) and education (35%) exceeding the one in three mark.

It also shows that three-quarters of these recruiters have policies in place on social media use, the highest of any sector, compared to 59% across all respondents.

The report concludes: “Despite the documented increase in the use of drugs, alcohol and social media in and outside the workplace, and employer concerns on these issues, employers are not doing enough to protect their business.”

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Paul Champion
Strategic Project Manager

Mobile: 07540 704920

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