Getting Started

Precaution or invasion?

Kingston Smith asks whether checking employees’ social media is a sensible precaution or invasion of privacy?

Precaution or invasion?

Do you always check the social media profiles of potential recruits before making an offer?  Would it change your opinion of a new hire if you saw something shocking on their pages?  Would you check a current employee’s pages? And reconsider their future with your company if you did not like what you saw? Would that be fair on the employee?

Social media and its accessibility to current and potential employers is a hot topic at present as people adjust to the potential impact their social media presence may have on future job prospects.

Some would say that the right to privacy should extend to personal pages unrelated to work. Others may argue that anything placed in the public domain, which social media posts most definitely are, is fair game for employers to look at before hiring an employee.

As an employer, finding controversial postings may naturally influence a decision about making an offer. As long as the decision is not related to any discriminatory reason for not making or retracting an offer then this is, potentially, fair enough.

But what if you find out something about a current employee that you are not happy with – what can you do about it?

It really depends if the information found relates to the individual’s employment and/or could call your organisation into disrepute.

If it does reflect badly on your organisation – e.g. commenting about customers, clients or other employees on publicly viewable pages – then this could be something that should be raised with the employee before requiring them to remove the post from the site. If the matter is serious in nature, or you have evidence that your company’s reputation has been damaged – a customer complaint, for example – you can look to take further disciplinary action.

However, if there is no link to the business it is probably best left in the employee’s private life and not brought up in the work environment.

A note for employees: the safest way to behave online is to expect your boss to see it and post accordingly. Failing that, just do not refer to your employer so your antics cannot be related back to your employment and you should have nothing to worry about!


​The opinions expressed by third parties are their own are not necessarily shared by St. James’s Place Wealth Management.