So­lic­i­tors warn against net­work­ing sites

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - ET Business -

US­ING so­cial net­work­ing sites to vet job can­di­dates could land em­ploy­ers in hot wa­ter, em­ploy­ment lawyers at city firm He­garty LLP So­lic­i­tors have warned.

Bosses should avoid us­ing so­cial net­work­ing sites, in­clud­ing Face­book and Mys­pace, to vet job can­di­dates as it could leave them vul­ner­a­ble to dis­crim­i­na­tion claims.

Martin Bloom, part­ner and head of em­ploy­ment law at the firm, said: “Us­ing these sites to can­vass more in­for­ma­tion about an em­ployee, or an in­ter­view can­di­date, is po­ten­tially risky for an em­ployer. For ex­am­ple, it is pos­si­ble to ob- tain in­for­ma­tion about a per­son’s sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or re­li­gious be­liefs that can im­pact, or is per­ceived to im­pact, on the de­ci­sion made to re­cruit or not re­cruit that per­son - this can lead to dis­crim­i­na­tion claims.”

The Em­ploy­ment Prac­tices Data Pro­tec­tion Code states that an em­ployer should only use vet­ting where there are par­tic­u­lar and sig­nif­i­cant risks in­volved to the em­ployer, clients, cus­tomers or oth­ers, such as work­ing with chil­dren or vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple. How­ever, em­ploy­ers should not place re­liance on in­for­ma­tion col­lected from so­cial net­work­ing sites as it is po­ten­tially un­re­li­able.

Em­ploy­ees should also be aware of po­ten­tial prob­lems from “be­friend­ing” their em­ploy­ers on these sites and should choose to have their web­page on a pri­vacy set­ting where pos­si­ble.

“The dis­missal of em­ploy­ees for com­ments made about em­ploy­ers on so­cial net­work­ing sites can also lead to un­fair dis­missal claims,” added Mr Bloom. “How­ever, an em­ployer may be able to de­fend them­selves against such a claim if they can show the dis­missal was a rea­son­able re­sponse to the con­duct of the em­ployee.”

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