Business Doctor which appeared in The Sunday Times on the 9th August written by Alan Price.
DM writes: As a growing business we take advantage of social media. However, I wish to implement rules so that when employees leave they do not post anything negative about the company. What is the best way of doing this?
There are several ways in which companies can protect their interests once employees have left, writes Alan Price, employment law director of Peninsula. This protection tends to focus on restricting employees’ future working possibilities and how they use the information they have acquired during their employment. It can to be done as part of the contract of employment or through standalone policies.
If there was any breach of the agreement, the company would have to take action through the civil courts. The same approach would apply to a provision intended to stop employees from posting defamatory remarks about the company on social media.
Before going to court, you would need to consider various factors.It would be up to you to show that you had suffered a loss as a direct result of the comment. You would need to be able to show how much exposure the comment had received — did the social media site have restricted access, for example?. You would also need to consider whether it was definitely the employee who posted the remark, or whether it could have been someone else.
Although it may be difficult to provide evidence of the loss, a clause that employees should not post negative comments on social media during employment and after it has ended still has merit. It shows employees that you have considered the matter and have a clear stance on how you will deal with negative comments. It will at least act as a strong deterrent.
If you have a policy on the use of social media during employment, and an employee breaches it, you can deal with it as a disciplinary matter. The same factors will need to considered — whether it could reasonably be believed that it was the employee who posted the comment, its potential exposure and so on.
For more information on how to introduce a social media policy contact Peninsula on 0844 892 2772.