As Scotland’s Referendum nears closer, UP’s HR Team Lead Sarah Macfarlane discusses #indyref, Employment Legislation and Social Media!
Social media is a great resource and can be great fun, especially if, like me, you are as intrinsically nosey and lose minutes/hours of your life having a wee snoop on Facebook or LinkedIn (you know the one, Facebook for professionals?).
But with all this personal information online and accessible, where is the ‘imaginary line’ (if it is imaginary and not defined) in terms of what is appropriate to post/share on what employees may see as their personal blogs/pages/profiles……….especially when it comes to political views?
How do we, as the reader/snooper, disseminate between an individual’s personal view and the view that may be held by the organization that they work for? What is the impact of this on us as a reader in terms of the opinion we then form about the individual or organisation?
I hate to be the one to tell you, however, we have a referendum taking place next month and as Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling sharpen their elbows and tongues, ‘strengthening’ their campaign’s stance, the debate and sharing of opinions is heating up online which, depending on the source, can range from the ‘presumed to be factual’ to the ridiculous.
Now, while I have no issue with ‘online friends’ expressing their well thought through and balanced opinions based on cohesive research or simply jumping on the band wagon, from an HR perspective, this leads us in to a very grey area. This makes me nervous.
For example, an employee expressing, what has clearly been stated as a personal opinion, rather than the opinion of the organization, in the press is different from him/her expressing the same opinion on Facebook or LinkedIn. Why? Because it is uncensored, seen as their own personal profile which they have responsibility for and are free to express an opinion, however, this could have a direct impact on some, one, all of their workforce. Why? An individual’s political views could potentially be protected as a ‘Philosophical Belief’, one of the 9 (currently) Protected Characteristics, under the Equality Act 2010.
Even, as you sip your tea/coffee/light refreshment, you think that this is Employment Legislation gone mad, or, conversely, think that it is great that people are now further protected in the workplace, it is the reality in which we operate.
My advice would be;
- Ensure that your organisation has a robust Social Media Policy in place and that it is well communicated
- Deal with any Social Media related issues or situations raised by your staff quickly and ensure that you take it seriously. Use your Grievance and Disciplinary policies as appropriate.
- Protect your organisation’s brand online.