Posted on: Apr 23, 2012
The most commonly used social media sites include:
- Linked In
- My Space
Use of social media pre-employment
Overseas (particularly in the USA), employers and recruitment agencies have been known to request Facebook and other social media logins and passwords as part of the recruitment process. However, under New Zealand laws (mainly the Privacy Act), requesting logins and passwords from candidates is definitely a step too far and this practice should not be adopted.
“Googling” a prospective employee is a good tool and is a legitimate practice as information that is available in the public domain can be looked at when assessing suitability for a position.
Often someone’s Linked In profile comes up in a google search, and this can assist in cross-checking the candidates CV, to see if what is in the CV is consistent with the work history that he/she has provided on their profile.
Also, some people have relatively low privacy settings on Facebook and therefore prospective employers can get a glimpse of who the candidate is personally, however it is important to keep in mind that Facebook profiles often contain personal information such as gender, race, religion and age which are potential grounds for discrimination. These factors (gender, race, religion, age and other potentially discriminatory factors) should not be used when accessing a candidate’s suitability for a position.
Use of social media during Employment
The main problems employers find with employees using social media during employment are:
- Time spent during work hours on social media
- Disparaging comments
- Disclosure of confidential information
- Bullying and harassment
Questions to consider when accessing the potential misuse of social media:
- Did the conduct take place during work hours?
- Did the conduct identify the employer?
- Is the conduct detrimental to the employer’s business and/or reputation?
- Is the conduct contrary to the employee’s duties or essentially incompatible with the proper discharge of the employee’s duties?
We recommend employers to have a social media policy, and that all employees are clear on what it is, what they can and can’t do and possible consequences if policy is breached. Paul Diver Associates can assist in developing a policy suitable to your organisation – if you don’t have one you need to get onto it ASAP. As this is a developing area in terms of case law (and therefore legal guidelines have yet to be established), having an appropriate policy in place will assist when any potential problems arise.
This article, and any information contained on our website is necessarily brief and general in nature, and should not be substituted for professional advice. You should always seek professional advice before taking any action in relation to the matters addressed.