Legalities of social media costing millions

by 17 Oct 2011

New data has revealed employers are not keeping pace with social media, and as a result are spending millions on legal loopholes due to poorly updated workplace policies and contracts.

According to UK based research by commercial law firm DLA Piper, one in three businesses have been forced to undertake legal proceedings against employees because of defamatory, sensitive, or classified information about their organisation on a social media network.

The research also revealed just 25% of businesses have a tailored media policy, and less than half (43%) had a social media policy that was linked to their IT or HR policies.

Kate Hodgkiss from DLA Piper said the study aimed to highlight that many businesses are failing to protect themselves against the legal ramifications of social media misuse, and social networking practices are indeed outpacing business policies.

“The research highlights the growing need for a definitive social media policy that is regularly assessed and updated,” Hodgkiss said.

In Australia, Fair Work has received many complaints arising from social media misuse, which Allan Drake-Brockman, head of workplace relations, employment and safety, said could have been avoided with up-to-date and comprehensive social media policies.

Drake-Brockman said the online actions of employees can have significant impacts on business, particularly when aggressive anti-work sentiments are posted on social media sites.

“Employers need to effectively address social media issues in the workplace to not only protect their business reputation, but also to protect other employees from situations of online harassment and bullying,” Drake-Brockman added.


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