A new report from independent think tank the Institute of Employment Rights offers practical advice to trade unions seeking to protect their workers from dismissal over the content of their social media posts.
Authors Paul Scholey and Daniel Kindell – both of Morrish Solicitors – warn in Social media and the law that the courts are hearing an increasing number of cases in which the dispute between worker and employer revolves around messages posted online or in emails.
The publication examines recent case law to provide an analysis of the factors that typically lead to a decision that a dismissal was unfair, that confidentiality rules were breached, that an organisation’s reputation was negatively impacted or that a worker’s human rights were contravened.
As well as recommending legislative reforms – including to the ‘band of reasonable responses’, a proportionality test that considers only the employer’s definition of ‘fair dismissal’ and not the worker’s – the authors conclude with a practical checklist for unions dealing with social media cases.
Paul Scholey, Partner at Morrish Solicitors and co-author of the report, said: “The cases we reviewed in our research have revealed a lot about which factors have proven important to the courts when making decisions in social media cases. In this book, we’ve laid out those factors in an easy- to-read way and we hope the report can become a manual for unions in protecting their members. “It’s vital that unions stay up-to-date with these trends. It’s all too easy to be left behind by emerging technologies, but when we fail to keep up we leave workers vulnerable.”
Daniel Kindell, Partner at Morrish Solicitors and co- author of the report, said: “There’s a lot of space for union action in these cases, both in terms of preventing social media issues from arising and in protecting workers after the fact. Social edia policies can be negotiated, and there are many angles from which a legal defence can be successfully launched.”
The report is available Ffrom IER at a subsidised price for union members of just £8 (compared with
£30 for non-members). It can be purchased in hard copy, downloaded as an e-book, or bought in bulk at a significant discount by unions seeking to distribute the information across branches.