Brainfood: Workplace Rights - Blog Standards

Blogging is the latest craze sweeping our PC world. Millions of people now keep an online journal - known as a 'web log' or 'blog' - and millions more read them. It might seem harmless enough, but employers need to wise up. The diary-like nature of blogs means their authors are wont to discuss their working lives, quite possibly in an unflattering manner. Earlier this year, an employee of Waterstones became one of the first people in the UK to be 'dooced' - a term specifically coined for dismissal resulting from the contents of a blog - for criticising his employer online. Joe Gordon's blog referred to his 'sandal-wearing' manager as 'Evil Boss' and dubbed the company 'Bastardstones'. Employers can take practical steps to protect themselves without unduly shackling staff's freedom of expression. One option is to set clear limits on the permissible contents of a blog, reserving the right to take disciplinary action if employees overstep the mark.

by Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin solicitors, e-mail:
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

Such a policy can expressly extend to blogs written at home, emphasise employees' duties of confidentiality and prevent bad-mouthing of the organisation or its customers. That said, employers should perhaps lighten up and be prepared to take the odd online jibe on the chin.

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