SAS Daniels issues guidance on the use of social media ahead of the Christmas party season

Year Published: 2018

As the festive party season approaches, one Cheshire law firm is working with businesses across the region to ensure they have policies and procedures in place that provide clarity for employees on the do’s and don’ts for their professional, and personal, social media accounts.

SAS Daniels has warned that many companies are struggling to keep policies up to date and often find it challenging to deal with the consequences of social media use at company organised events, especially during the festive period.

As it is common for the Christmas party to be publicised on social media, it is crucial that employers have up to date social media policies in place to firmly set the expectations of employees and their responsibilities.

Charlie Wood, Employment Law & HR Solicitor at SAS Daniels

Charlie Wood, Employment Law & HR Solicitor

Charlie Wood, Employment Law and HR Solicitor at SAS Daniels, said: “Employees and employers should be conscious of what they are uploading to their personal or company social media accounts. Under the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) photos should only be shared with the consent of each person in the picture. Obviously, in reality this is rather impractical. However people should ensure, as far as they can, that they have the relevant consents to take and use pictures of their colleagues.

“The reason why consent and GDPR is such a hot topic is that, even from a simple picture taken at a Christmas party, you could ascertain sensitive personal data such as race, age, and potentially information about someone’s health. Whilst this may seem like a lot to consider, employers are already starting to receive complaints that they have breached their GDPR obligations and that they didn’t obtain the necessary consent to use the images.

“There is also added concern that the photos could bring the company into disrepute. Depending on different situations, a lapse in judgement could see an issue escalate from breaching privacy laws to potentially a more serious disciplinary matter.

“At the Christmas party, peoples’ judgement is sometimes impaired, particularly when alcohol is involved. However, this is no defence for breaching social media rules set by employers. You shouldn’t make exceptions or allowances for staff because drinking is involved or because they are off site at a party, and this needs to be made explicitly clear to all employees. This should hopefully mitigate the risk of any complaints being made.”

It’s estimated that 98 per cent of internet users are on social media and globally, the average person spends two hours and 15 minutes on social media channels a day. A third of people also say that sharing photos and videos is their main reason for using the platforms. It’s reported that misuse of the internet and social media by workers costs Britain’s economy billions of pounds every year and that many employers are already grappling with issues like time theft, defamation, cyber bullying, freedom of speech and the invasion of privacy.

Charlie added: “Businesses can, and should, reinforce to their employees the behaviour that is expected of them. This way, everyone can enjoy a well-deserved Christmas party without you, and your management team, fearing the worst.”

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