Social Media Guidance Published by ACAS – 13th September 2011

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Posted in:Corporate and Commercial, HR and Employment|September 13, 2011 | Join the mailing list

ACAS has recently launched guidance on managing social media in the workplace. This guidance was prepared following research which has found that 55% of employees now use social networks at work, either on computers or mobile phones,
yet fewer than one in ten employers have a social media policy. 

Whilst social media provides unique networking opportunities and the ability to raise a business’ profile, employees’ use of sites such as Facebook and Twitter can pose risks to confidential information, and can jeopardise an employer’s reputation. Employees
may abuse access by looking at personal web pages instead of working, posting derogatory comments about managers and colleagues, or buying and selling online.

The guidance covers how to deal with disciplinary and grievance issues and how to tackle performance issues caused by employees spending too much time updating social network accounts and blogging, rather than concentrating on their work.  There is also guidance
on using social media to advertise jobs and recruit new employees. In particular it recommends that before an organisation runs background checks on job applicants and candidates for promotion, it should first consider the associated legal risks and take advice
to reduce exposure to potential discrimination claims.

We recognise that blogs and social media offer innovative ways for your business to grow and expand. However, it is important that employees are aware of your expectations, as an employer, that they have guidelines to work to when using the internet and social
media, and that the consequences of breaching such policies are made clear. We can assess the particular risks to your business, and prepare or update your social networking policy or existing internet use policy, to ensure your business is protected so far
as possible. 

It is also important that policies and guidelines are communicated to all employees generally and through training, and that compliance is monitored to ensure that enforcement is uniform throughout your business. Inconsistent enforcement may lead to discrimination
and/or unfair dismissal claims. 

In the event issues do arise, we can also provide advice on how to deal with the same – whether that be informally or through the use of the disciplinary procedures.

For practical and effective guidance and advice in respect of managing social media in the workplace or with regard to any other aspect of employment law, please contact a member of our employment team on 0161 833 9211 or by email:

Alison Loveday:

Nigel Crebbin:

Claire Coutts:

Sally Tomlinson:

The information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No responsibility for article’s accuracy or correctness is assumed by Berg or any of its partners or employees.
Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of the contents of this article.

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