The controversy around Tweets posted by Britain’s first youth police and crime commissioner, Paris Brown, followed by her withdrawal from the role highlights the increasing presence of social media in the recruitment process and in the workplace.
Social media and online technology is a fast changing environment which offers many benefits to both our professional and personal lives, including flexibility and the ability to communicate to a wide audience. However, it can also present challenges to employers.
For instance, social media can impact upon employees’ performance, may provide a platform for bullying, harassment or victimization, and employees may post defamatory comments about the company or divulge sensitive information.
What’s more, employers should be alert to the potential dangers of using social media in recruitment. In particular, employers who screen candidates via their social networking pages as part of the process could face discrimination claims in the employment tribunal if they do not invite a candidate for interview or offer them the position based on something discovered on a social networking profile. The law protects people from discrimination even at the recruitment stage.
As social media becomes more prominent, Acas recommends that employers’ policies on the use of social media at work should be developed to include what is and what is not acceptable use of the internet, emails, smart phones, blogs and tweets. Also bullying policies should be updated to include references to “cyber bullying”.
The Acas Social Networking guide is a recommended read, which highlights the benefits and dangers of social media in the employment sphere and also makes recommendations for employers that could help them avoid potential issues in the future.
For employees, an App has been developed that allows you to find out how likely you are to get fired if your (potential) employer were to come across your twitter account at: FireMe!