Social media policy, is it necessary?

We live in a digital age and social media has been responsible for the success of many businesses. This week marks the 25th anniversary of the internet. The internet allows us to communicate with others across the globe and spread news faster than ever before.

 

Some might even say that a social media presence is essential to business if they wish to interact with the wider public. Yet many organisations big and small do not have a social media policy.

 

Like any public relations, social media should be monitored and regulated by businesses. It is easy for a picture of phrase to become misconstrued and cause offence which in turn can damage the reputation of any business or indeed individual.

 

Last month the royal family showed pictures of the young Prince George on his third birthday. The pictures were delightful and probably intended for the public to feel a connection to the young royal. However, there was one picture which caused outrage. This was the picture of the young prince offering his dog an ice cream. Animal lovers took to social media to complain that feeding ice cream to dogs was unacceptable. Resulting in RSPCA issuing a warning about giving ice cream to dogs. This is just one of many examples of how social media can go wrong.

 

As a business you may have a company Linkedin page which you require your staff to update and write blogs for. If this is the case you should ensure that all material is in keeping with the business ethics and branding. How much control you have is up to you. Some businesses provide templates to ensure that all information is reflective of the brand.

 

Then there are company contacts and connections. Relationship is everything at the moment and staff are encouraged to build a network and a following. However you should  consider who owns that data at the end of the employment relationship.  Do you intend for the contacts to be the property of the company? If the answer is yes, this should be stated in a social media policy.

 

It might sound obvious but a business should endeavour to protect its precious information such as intellectual property,  trade secrets, current or future trading performance. If this is not communicated to staff there is a risk that this information could be leaked on social media.

 

You should also pose guidance on personal accounts held by staff members on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Pinterest. Firstly you should ask employees to state that any views on each forum is their own and not that of the company. This simple task may save the business embarrassment in the future.

 

Employees and workers should be told that may be disciplined for any offensive or derogatory material posted on their personal page even if it is posted privately. Employment tribunal cases have shown us that even private content is not considered to be private once it is posted onto social media.

 

However, a social media policy should be fluid and have the ability to be adapted. We should not be afraid of social media or cause fear. Implementing  a clear a simple policy is another way of communication expectation between you and your staff which in turn makes for a better working environment.
If you after reading this post you feel as though your business could benefit from a sound social media policy. Email info@orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk to see how we can help.

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Does auto enrolment mean that I have to issue a new contract?

 

One of the most common questions I am asked in relation to Auto enrolment is “Will I have to issue new employment contracts?”

If your existing contracts do not contain a pension scheme or pension clause you do not have to issue new contracts .

Auto enrolment is a derivative or consequence of The Pensions Act It should be remembered that legislation always overrides contract. It should also be remembered that an Employment Contract or Terms and Conditions of Employment do not have to be contained within one document.

It is perfectly acceptable to provide your staff with a letter about auto-enrolment and the deductions which the staff member will experience as a result of this process. This is not dissimilar to informing a staff member by way of letter that they their annual pay has increased rather than sending the staff member a brand new contract.

Employers should seek to make reference to auto enrolment in any new contracts that are issued to new or existing staff. The purpose of this is for the employer to show that they comply with the legislation. However, the reference to auto-enrolment should not be overly complicated or too specific.

If the original contract does contain a pension clause it is wise to revisit the contract and to issue new contracts if the original clause is not compliant. If the existing pension benefits are not compliant with auto enrolment the legislation will override the contract and the existing contract will be out of date.

You should be checking the contract to ensure that the pension and other workplace benefits are not discriminatory. In recent news Lloyds Bank have been in the spotlight and suggestions of gender discrimination surrounding their pension scheme have been made.

It is also a good idea to check that your pension scheme is inclusive. Note that Agency workers are also entitled to be automatically enrolled onto an approved pension scheme even though your original pension scheme might not have allowed this.

Some existing pension schemes require a qualifying period of employment before the employee can partake in the pension scheme. This is not the case with auto enrolment. Auto enrolment entitlements start from day one of employment although it can be delayed for a maximum of 3 months.

Finally it is best practice to review employment contracts, employee handbooks and workplace policies every two years to ensure they are still relevant and compliant.

If you would like to more specific advice on what should an Employment Contract or company policy should include fill in the contact form at www.orchardemploymentlaw.co.uk or call 01634 564136.