David Ogilvy & Elizabeth Bremner: Online social networking from an employers perspective, part 1

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Part 1 of 2
The increasing popularity of social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook has undoubtedly heralded a sea change in how people interact with each other in their daily lives. It is now commonplace to share the minutiae of their existence with a variety of contacts across online communities, some of whom will be friends, but many may be no more than a name on a list. Whereas, prior to the advent of these sites, people may have discussed good or bad news over a phone call with a friend, frequently it seems that people now unthinkingly share every detail and opinion, however mundane, with a comparatively large group of people.

What are the risks?
Regardless of whether the online activity took place within or outwith working hours, employers must be aware of the potential impact of these issues in order to deal with it appropriately and to help minimise risk.

Damage to Reputation
Employees might post negative comments on social networking sites about their employer, colleagues, or their work, which can be potentially damaging to an organisation’s professional reputation. This applies equally to materials posted by employees such as photographs or videos.

The ease of access to online forums means that it can take just seconds to post a kneejerk reaction to a situation online. The immediate accessibility of these sites, combined with an element of naiveté on an employee’s part can lead to considerable damage to an employer’s reputation.

Confidential Information
Employees could, intentionally or inadvertently, disclose confidential information which can have ramifications for the employer. Flippant references to the daily running of the business, for example, to specific departments or procedures, can potentially leave the employer open to ‘corporate infiltration and security breaches’ which could have long-term effects on the business. This also applies to the storage of confidential information on websites such as LinkedIn, which are designed for making business contacts.

Wasting company time
Another associated and obvious risk of allowing access to social networking sites is their underlying addictive nature. If such websites are made readily available in working hours, this can lead to a marked decline in workplace productivity. Facebook is a prime example of a procrastination tool, and this can have a significant knock-on effect on profitability, etc.


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About David Ogilvy

David Ogilvy, Partner in employment law and litigation, Turcan Connell

David specialises in litigation and employment law. He is accredited as a specialist in employment law by the Law Society of Scotland and has over 19 years’ experience of contentious matters in a wide range of areas. He previously served a 5 year term as part-time Chairman with the Employment Tribunal.

David has a wealth of experience in all aspects of employment law as they impact upon individuals. His experience includes representing directors and other senior executives and advising in all areas relating to their relationship with the company, e.g. service agreements, restrictive covenants and other contractual matters and all legal issues arising out of the relationship and its termination.

David acts for a number of high profile charitable organisations in Scotland on all aspects of managing relationships with the work force and represents not for profit clients at tribunals. He has experience of both non-unionised and trade unionised work places and relevant negotiating structures enabling him to advise on practical issues which arise on a day-to-day basis.

Turcan Connell’s comprehensive employment law advice extends to all areas affecting agricultural estates and enterprises and charities, from recruitment to termination.

Chambers UK describes David Ogilvy as heading the three-person team, and is praised for "doing quality work". He is also "widely respected for his contentious employment work".

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