Social Media – Think before you post!

September 10, 2018

Social media can be great fun but, in a world where ‘oversharing’ is common, and most practices make use of social media to promote their business, there’s huge scope for things to go wrong. As well as the employees who phone in sick and then post pictures of themselves with friends on a day out, we regularly hear about employees who decide it would be good fun to post pictures of themselves at work with clients’ animals or post a picture of a cute cat that needs rehoming, without knowing the full back-story.

So how can you protect yourself?

It is important that you have robust social media policies in place, and that you make your team aware of them. Hopefully this will prevent most problems happening, or failing that, allow you to take decisive action if your policies are breached.

Employees need to be aware that it is just as important to comply with the policy outsideof the workplace. Some postings can identify the user as an employee of the company, sometimes in a way that can cause real reputational damage. This is, of course, very serious, as employees owe a duty of fidelity to the company, even in their own time.

Social Media Policy

Your policy should have strict guidelines about photographs being taken of patients, be clear about who is allowed to post on the practice’s social media profiles, what content is appropriate, and what permission may be required from the client. Serious breaches of these policies can amount to gross misconduct, leading to dismissal.

When things go (badly) wrong

We have, sadly, recently been involved in the dismissal of an employee who posted images taken at work that proved very distressing for many people. This lead to several client complaints, with some leaving the practice completely. If a work-related post causes ‘real reputational risk’, it’s difficult for an employee to justify it. Provided you follow a proper, fair process, including having a full investigation, we believe that an employment tribunal would consider dismissal in such a situation to be fair.

Please note: The above information is for general guidance only, and is not a substitute for specific legal advice about any particular situation.