Employees’ use of social media is a hot topic in HR. It’s something that employers have not traditionally needed to deal with and, as it’s a relatively new area, everyone’s got a view on what employers should and shouldn’t do. Including me, hence this blog. Yesterday this blog caught my eye. It’s by Doug Shaw, and summarises a talk by Neil Morrison and Matthew Hanwell at the currently underway 2011 CIPD conference about social media entitled “HR, Harnessing the Power of Social Media”. Neil’s website doesn’t at the time of writing contain full details of his talk, but instead refers to Doug’s blog, so that’s what I’m working from, and from which the quotes below are taken. I’ll say now that if I’ve misconstrued any element of Neil’s talk then my apologies, and I’ll be happy to amend this blog as appropriate.
As a former employment lawyer, I want to make a few comments on the legal issues on the subject, with reference to some of Neil’s observations in his talk (as set out in Doug’s blog). None of what follows is any sort of attack on Neil, whose talk merely catalysed me into writing something I have been planning on anyway, and some of whose points I entirely agree with. But I think it’s important that employers and HR professionals realise that the issues that can arise from employees’ use of social media aren’t like those wooly, non-legal HR areas where it doesn’t really matter (legally speaking) what you do. On the contrary, they can have serious business and legal consequences for employers.