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How can you protect your business against reputational damage?

Jul 05, 2017

How employers can prevent reputational damage

It is important that employers protect their organisations reputation, Personnel Today have listed six ways in which employers can reduce the risk and ensure that damage is kept to a minimum.

(1)  Put in place a firm Social Media policy

Employers should ensure they have a robust social media policy that applies clear rules on the use of social media. E.G. Remind employees that they should not assume opinions and remarks made on social media platforms are private. Your workplace policy should set out clear procedures of disciplinary action that may be taken if rules are broken.

The case of Plant v API Microelectronics LTD notes the importance of being cautious when making comments regarding your place of work on social media platforms.

In this instance, the employer implemented a social media policy reminding employees on what they considered as acceptable content on social media. On doing so, the organisation provided all employees with a list of things that they should not be doing, in the event that it may damage the company’s reputation.

Ms Plant, who had served 17 years at the organisation with a spotless disciplinary record made the mistake of posting a comment on Facebook about her employers that stated: “PMSL (piss myself laughing) bloody place, I need to hurry up and sue them PMSL.”

Following this comment, the employee was invited to attend a disciplinary meeting to discuss her actions. The employees defence was that she did not think her Facebook was linked to the company in any form and that the comments made were not aimed at her employers. There was no further explanation given.

Her employers argued that because of their strict social media policy that they had implemented and the nature of the comment, the employee should be dismissed. Ms Plant was given the chance to appeal this decision.

On appeal, the Employment Tribunal found that: “It may be seen as harsh, but the company taking into account Ms Plant’s long service and clear record nevertheless was dismissed for a clear breach of the policy and that would fall within the range of a reasonable response open to an employer.”

(2)  Address inappropriate comments made on Social Media

In the event that an employee has posted an inappropriate comment on social media that involves the organisation, you should gather enough evidence and take the correct steps to delete the material quickly. This may involve asking the employee to do so. Depending on the content, disciplinary action may be required.

(3)  Have your managers properly trained in the correct recruitment practices

It is crucial that managers manage recruitment processes in a professional manner. Even more so when updating an unsuccessful applicant.

A recent case of “recruitment mishaps” saw an unsuccessful job applicant who tweeted a screenshot of a text that they had received informing them of why she had not been chosen for the role, the text message was sarcastic and at the end of the text the manager had used a cry-laughing emoji.

Another example concerned an email that had been accidently sent to the applicant calling her a “left wing loon tree hugger.”

(4)  Ensure your staff are aware of behaviour that will be expected out of the workplace

Inappropriate behaviour outside of work can have a severe impact on an organisations public image. It is the line managers duty to pre-warn employees what will be viewed as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the workplace or at a public event.

If your employee has committed a criminal offence out of the workplace, the employer should consider dismissal in the event that continued employment would see damage on the company’s reputation.

(5)  Prepare for gender pay gap reporting

Large organisations that do not publish gender pay gap figures by April 2018 run the risk of negative publicity. You can start preparing for gender pay gap reporting now. This can be done by putting figures into context and producing a narrative commentary.

(6)  Consider the organisations reputation before pursuing Employment Tribunal claims

In February 2017, Employment Tribunal decisions were made available online and as a result of this, it may put the business at risk of negative media interests. Further, it may put potential job applicants off working for your organisation.

Thus, you should take reputational damage into consideration when deciding to defend an Employment Tribunal case.

How Can You Avoid Getting Caught Out?

If you are unsure about how these changes to employment law might affect your business, or simply want to check your company’s compliance generally, Contact Us and we will undertake full review of your current arrangements and provide you with our findings and recommendations.

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Employment Law Updates

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Employment Law, Employment Law Advices for Employers, employmentlawadvice