Employees who are expected to uphold high professional standards must behave responsibly when using social media.
All types of employees – in particular those who work with vulnerable groups and young people – are increasingly falling foul of the standards of acceptable behaviour required of them. In our experience disciplinary cases involving misuse of social media sites like Facebook have consistently increased.
For example the Teachers’ regulatory body, the National College of Teaching and Leadership, has just reported that the number of teachers who have been barred for inappropriate use of social media has doubled in the past year.
In a third of these cases initial contact between the employee and a young person resulted in some form of relationship developing. This breach of professional standards and safeguarding rules will inevitably make it necessary to instigate formal disciplinary processes.
Often in disciplinary cases the employee concerned will deny that they were fully aware of the standards required of them. Our advice to all employers is that it is crucial to have a suitable Social Media Policy and to make sure all employees are issued with a copy of it.
Other points of best practice include:
- Ensuring employees are properly trained in safeguarding rules
- Adopting induction processes that adequately bring rules to employees’ attention
- Keeping proper records to ensure all employees have acknowledged and understood the rules and policies that govern their interaction with others