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Can employers investigate social media profiles of employees?

View profile for Sally Morris
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Increasingly, employers are looking at online profiles of prospective candidates when recruiting for their businesses. Naturally LinkedIn is the go to social media platform, but what about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.

There is no specific prohibition on checking social media profiles of candidates but there are risks associated with using social media for recruitment purposes. The main issue is the possibility of the employer discovering information about a candidate that could lead to inferences of discrimination if the candidate is subsequently unsuccessful.  Even if the employer does not discriminate, the fact they have looked at the candidate's social media profile and therefore become aware of or have a perception of their age, ethnicity and possibly disability could put the employer on the back foot in defending such a claim.  

To reduce the risk of such inferences, employers should consider using social media tools in background checks after initial interviews, so as to minimise claims that hiring decisions were influenced by discriminatory factors.

We can advise you on an appropriate social media policy for your business, so as to contain suitable wording for internet searches when recruiting, as well as considering what it thinks it will gain from an internet search.