Employees’ dodgy Christmas pictures could be ‘a risk’ to firms

Paula Whelan, corporate partner at Shakespeares' Milton Keynes office
Paula Whelan, corporate partner at Shakespeares' Milton Keynes office

Firms have been warned over risks to their reputation if employees post Christmas party photos on social media sites.

With a rise in the number of firms allowing workers to use their own devices for work and the ability to upload images to sites like Facebook, lawyers in Milton Keynes say there is a risk to company reputation.

According to Paula Whelan, corporate partner at Shakespeares’ in Silbury Boulevard, applications such as instant pictures-to-Facebook application, Instagram are presenting new risks for employers.

She said: “The way people share experiences when out and about socially has been transformed by the introduction of smartphone applications such as Instagram, which can share photos across social media networks in a matter of seconds.

“As a consequence, the reputational risks are much greater for employers who are ultimately responsible for any inappropriate conduct that could arise during a works party for example.

“While useful as an incentive bring your own device and choose your own device schemes have blurred the lines between people’s professional and personal lives further and this has increased the risks for employers.”

She added that formal policies and guidance on mobile phones and social media use are necessary and that these may need to be reviewed. When allowing employees to use their phones at work and at home it is important that IT departments are able to manage them by blocking certain applications or other downloads and wiping the device if it is lost, she said.

As employees will be using their phones to access social media accounts, they also need to be aware that this content should not contravene the terms of the employment contract.

Paula Whelan added: “Employees should be informed that social media mentions will be monitored over the Christmas period and defamatory comments about the company will be grounds for disciplinary action.

“At this time of year, employers may be worried about being seen as killjoys but it is in everyone’s interests that workplace policies are set out clearly and transparently.”