New ACAS guide to social media at work

Posted: 9th September 2011

Employment relations body Acas has published what is believed to be the first guide to social media use in the workplace.

According to Acas figures almost six out of ten employees now use social media at work. It estimates that misuse of the internet and social media by employees costs the UK economy up to £14billion a year and reports that many employers are now having to deal with issues such as time theft, cyber bullying, defamation, freedom of speech and the invasion of privacy.

The guide is aimed at helping businesses, staff and trade unions handle employment issues relating to use of the internet, blogs and social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Acas claims that it will save businesses ‘billions’.

In the guide Acas advises employers to:

• draw up a policy on social networking;
• treat ‘electronic behaviour’ in the same way as employers would treat ‘non-electronic behaviour’;
• react reasonably to issues relating to social networking by asking ‘what is the likely impact on the organisation?

The guide includes practical tips on managing the impact of social networking in the context of managing performance, recruitment, discipline and grievances, bullying, defamation, data protection and privacy. It also gives guidance as to how employers should go about developing a social networking policy and helpfully explains the legal issues relating to the use of social media from an employment perspective.

A full copy of the guide can be found here.