Several employees of directory enquiries company 118 118, for example, were said to be facing dismissal after setting up a user group on Facebook dedicated to trading insults about customers. A slightly less serious worry is the capacity of such sites to gobble up bandwidth and staff time. Many organisations have banned or restricted their use at work. Another dilemma for employers is whether to use social networking sites as a recruitment tool to 'cyber-vet' job applicants. A survey by financial services recruiter Joslin Rowe suggested that 20% of employers check out candidates' 'netreps' (internet reputations), despite one HR director describing it as like 'going into somebody's house and searching through their bedroom drawers'. Employers who succumb to the temptation should at least reduce the risk of discrimination claims by ensuring their recruiters are trained in equal opportunities. It's wise too to restrict online research on candidates to HR and specify that only information directly relevant to their application and suitability for the post be considered.
- Michael Burd and James Davies, Lewis Silkin LLP solicitors - e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.