A crack-down by British Airways on social media posting by staff has highlighted the challenge for employers in keeping policies up to date in a fast-moving digital environment.
The new guidance from the airline bans staff from posting when they are ‘professionally engaged’ or including any potentially sensitive content that could pose a risk to the business, customers or colleagues, whether on or off duty.
But the policy change is upsetting many crew who have been posting from the cockpit with images of stunning skylines, and sometimes celebrity passengers.
“It’s understandable that this decision may disappoint those who have amassed a large following with their behind-the-scenes look at aircraft and the exciting locations they journey to,” said Darryll Thomas, Employment Solicitor with West Midlands-based solicitors mfg Solicitors LLP.
“But BA’s approach is an important reminder for all employers to review and update their social media policies regularly and provide refresher training to their workforce – particularly with new apps creating new challenges.”
One social media app which has attracted huge interest in recent months is BeReal, which invites users to share authentic real-time photos with friends as an antidote to the highly staged, filtered images that have become commonplace.
From being relatively unknown in early 2022, BeReal has become one of the top five downloads in the UK, but is under scrutiny for its potential impact in the workplace.
The app notifies users at a random time each day to capture a picture within a two-minute timeframe, showing themselves in the moment, whatever they are doing. This is causing headaches as it can lead to employees inadvertently sharing confidential information if they take photos at work that include computer screens or papers on their desk.
Mr Thomas added: “To guard against such situations, employers need a robust social media policy in place, which sets clear guidelines for employees' use of social media both in and outside the workplace.
“The policy should include awareness of company reputation, protection of company confidential information, third-party confidentiality, appropriate use of company resources, and guidelines on appropriate use of social media, among other things. Most importantly, staff need to be regularly updated and trained on the policy.”
If an employee accidentally discloses confidential information on social media, the employer should take prompt action, including disciplinary proceedings if necessary. For employers in regulated sectors such incidents may require a report to their regulator and confirmation that steps have been taken to prevent a repeat occurrence.
This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.