Justis

Articles filed under Employment law

Employment tribunal judgments are now available online on GOV.UK at www.gov.uk/employment-tribunal-decisions.

Previously, in order to read a first instance judgment, you had to hope that one of the parties published it or that the judiciary website considered it to be of sufficient importance to publish or to take a trip to the central register and locate it in person.

i read your email

As the line between work and personal life blurs the media has repeatedly made reference to a right to snoop, with headlines such as “Bosses can snoop on workers’ private emails and messages” (The Telegraph), “Britain has a new human right … freedom to spy on employees’ emails” (The Daily Mail) and “Private messages at work can be read by European employers” (BBC News website). These three attention grabbers followed the decision of the ECHR in Bărbulescu v Romania (Application No 61496/08), 12 January 2016. Perhaps predictably, a proper reading of the case reveals that matters are not quite so clear-cut.

The use of social media in a workplace setting has gained increasing prominence alongside the rise of the internet-enabled office. Social media pervades the working day, and, whilst a number of employers have sought to limit its use during working hours, its mobile nature, accessible via smartphone or tablet, means that seeking to do so is a Sisyphean task.

Reputational damage

Social media also gives rise to a significant new medium through which employers can find themselves in difficulties. A disgruntled employee can easily and swiftly cause reputational damage through social media posts; a company can be irreparably damaged by the exposure to ridicule that this causes.

The UK’s first specialist employment law website – emplaw online – has been re-launched in January 2015 to provide authoritative, independent and up-to-date information to lawyers, advisors, HR professionals and anyone keen to stay on top of employment law.

Constantia Associates, of which Ian Perry and I are the major shareholders, bought the website after it went into liquidation in 2014 due to dated content and technical problems. I am an employment solicitor and former Head of Employment Policy and Freelance Legal Affairs for the BBC, while Ian is an IT programme manager, traditionally working with national and international organisations.

Between purchase and relaunch, we have completely updated and refocused the site both from a content and technology point of view.

The site now provides thousands of pages of comprehensive and up to date information, covering all aspects of employment law, from age discrimination to unfair dismissal, TUPE and data protection, as well as the latest employment law developments and cases. All content is provided by leading practicing solicitors and barristers.

The use of Drupal means the new site is much easier to update and an improved search engine function allows subscribers to easily find the information they need. There is a free version and an enhanced subscription service.

Since re-launch the site’s subscriber base has been growing steadily and includes government departments, judges and advisory agencies; employment lawyers in private practice; commercial businesses; unions and employer and employee advisory organisations.

Most of us are familiar with reports of employees being disciplined for posting inappropriate material on social media platforms, or employers over-reacting and dismissing an employee when a warning or, even, some training, might have been more productive. There seems to be a greater awareness of the risk even if there is not any greater understanding of how to manage that risk.

Either employees hope their posts, tweets, videos and status updates will never come to light or they do not care if they do. Given the abundance of social media platforms these days, that may not be a bad bet. After all, are your colleagues on Path? Or Pinterest? What about Google+, which now seems to be gaining traction two years after launching? According to the website NewMedia Trend Watch, nearly two-thirds of UK internet users have an active Facebook account and that probably explains why most cases that come to light involve unwise status updates on that platform.