Workplace rights: LinkedIn hazards

Employees are often uncertain about whether or not they can use LinkedIn. Managers should provide clearer guidance.

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Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

With over 100 million professionals on LinkedIn, it's natural that many companies want staff to exploit its business potential. But this can create novel types of legal dispute.

Take John Flexman, a former HR executive with BG Group, who has claimed constructive dismissal after being disciplined for uploading his CV to LinkedIn and registering an interest in 'career opportunities'.

The law is uncertain about how far employers can claim to own their employees' LinkedIn connections. Also unresolved is the position where people change jobs and update their profile with the new employer's details.

Since LinkedIn automatically informs all their contacts, could this breach any 'non-solicitation' agreement with the ex-employer? Managers must provide clear guidance about LinkedIn, imposing appropriate controls on content and specifying that contacts are the property of the business. Post-termination contractual restraints should also be reviewed.

Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors, email: employment@lewissilkin.com

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