Employers need to be wary of access to social media

The social networking website Twitter on the screen of an iPhone.Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
The social networking website Twitter on the screen of an iPhone.Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Solicitor Gemma Nolan

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AN employment specialist is warning of the dangers of using social media to vent frustrations over redundancies.

Sue Ball, director at Verisona Solicitors in North Harbour, says to do so is gross misconduct.

Her comments have been made following the live-tweeting of a redundancy meeting at HMV by the firm’s former social media planner Poppy Rose Cleere.

She said: ‘I have had experience of an individual who was given notice of redundancy by their employer, put on garden leave and proceeded to write on their Facebook page how they wanted to leave such a bad organisation anyway and were delighted they were now doing so with a payoff.

‘The company heard about the declarations, investigated, viewed them as being gross misconduct and subsequently fired the individual without the financial package.

‘Likewise, if HMV had offered Ms Cleere a redundancy package, they are perfectly entitled to withdraw it after her conduct.’

Ms Ball says in the situation when an employee with access to a firm’s public face is made redundant or fired, passwords need to be changed immediately.

She said: ‘In the vast majority of cases I have been involved in, an individual was called in for a meeting to break the bad news and from that point on was accompanied at all times when collecting belongings and leaving the building.

‘If Ms Cleere did have remote access through her phone to the HMV Twitter account, the request should have been made at interview for her to delete the connection and the action supervised to make sure it was done.

‘Companies must learn how to prepare, monitor and enforce online procedures and behaviour in written policy and contract in order to minimise the chances of a rogue individual hijacking communication channels to do their employer harm.’