An employer’s guide to social media in the workplace

Social media is one of the most powerful tools for online communication today. As such, it’s used heavily by consumers and businesses alike. Since employees operate as both these agents, social media can lead to the crossing over of personal and professional lives. Whether they’re posting on behalf of your organisation or merely in association with it, employers should be mindful about how their reputation could be impacted.

Is there a solution? Yes, there are many things employers can do to manage the risks of social media in the workplace. Continue reading for our full guide.


Legal considerations

Social media doesn’t just refer to the use of popular platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Rather, employers must be aware of any internet-based tools employees can use to interact with each other and those outside the company.

Social media has come to the forefront of internet use, with 4.8 billion active users as of April 2023. While this growth has only occurred over the last two decades, there are some older laws that influence how social media is used. The social media laws for employers to be aware of are:

  • The Human Rights Act 1998 – specifically article 8, which states people have a ‘right to respect for their private and family life, home and correspondence’. Article 10 also gives the right to freedom of expression.
  • The Data Protection Act 2018 and UK GDPR – which regulates businesses on how employee and applicant information is collected, handled, and used. This gives individuals the right to access their information and get compensation where necessary.
  • The Malicious Communications Act 1998 – which prevents the sending of communications (including online messages or letters) that convey a threat, grossly offensive or indecent message, or false information, if the intention of the sender is to cause distress or anxiety to the reader or recipient.
  • Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 – which provides that the use of public electronic communications equipment to send a message that is false, grossly offensive, or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character, will be punishable by either an imprisonment term not exceeding six months, or an unlimited fine, or both. It is also an offence to send a communication through a public network intended to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to the recipient.
  • The Computer Misuse Act 1990 – which prevents the unauthorised access, modification and use of computer material, or the use of a computer to assist in a criminal offence.


Managing social media in the workplace

For employers, some degree social media management is important to protect their business. This is because social media use has the potential to damage a business’s reputation unless there are certain guidelines in place. One reason for this can be workers misusing official accounts. It’s therefore important to first make employees aware of the three main uses of social media:

  • Personal – private life.
  • Professional – use of social media to growth a network of contacts, increase brand visibility, and bring in new business.
  • Official – communications using the brand’s name as a representative.

Although only a few employees might have access to a company’s official social media accounts, many people have a separate work email address. This should be used exclusively for business-related purposes, as the company name is associated with the inbox.

Risks of social media to employers

When employees make posts or comments they shouldn’t, the consequences can be dire. Staff that can’t use and manage their email inbox effectively can be a security risk, for example. Here are the other workplace issues social media can create:

  • Bullying / cyberbullying
  • Loss of brand identity across multiple channels
  • A PR crisis
  • Copyright infringement
  • Disorganisation


One option for employers is to limit the time or scope of social media use at work. However, close monitoring of employee social media use has the potential to create problems for employers. If workers feel like they’re constantly being watched, this can cause trust in management to break down. Even if you explain the reasons behind your actions, it can still result in a loss of privacy.

Furthermore, as mentioned above, there are laws to protect employee freedoms online. Depending on how far an employer’s efforts to manage social media use go, it could be seen as infringing on employee rights. In this case, the employer is open to employment claims.


Workplace social media policy

Businesses of any size can benefit from having a social media policy in place. This creates a framework that can be used to inform procedure and protect the organisation’s reputation. It should provide information to employees on what’s considered acceptable online behaviour. Employers should use their social media policy to establish the disciplinary process, along with what actions will be taken.

A social media policy can also serve to protect employee wellbeing, which is an obligation all employers share. It does this by avoiding negative outcomes like workplace bullying and the sharing of personal information.

Copyright training

A stark difference between personal and professional social media use is the increased risk of copyright. As a result, many employees may not be aware of what to look out for. Employers should therefore provide education on the best copyright practices online. This includes checking information sources for reputability and crediting material sources.

Company guidelines

Social media is a great way for businesses to interact with their audience. It can allow for natural connections that establish what the brand stands for. However, this can be undermined if employees aren’t aware of the company’s brand values when they’re posting online. A social media policy lets employees reference the business’s established content style and tone of voice.

It’s important for employers to be transparent. Social media guidelines make it clear to employees that you’re monitoring social media. This demonstrates your expectations, as well as your commitment to online safety.

Risks of information sharing

Place an emphasis on the risks of sharing confidential and proprietary information. This includes personal information relating to the employee themselves, along with anyone else in the workplace. Employees should be encouraged to consult a colleague before they post anything they’re unsure of.

Some employees may wish to remain absent from social media. Policies can account for this by requiring employees to ask permission before taking and sharing photos.


Employment lawyers for employers

If you’re unsure where to start when creating a workplace social media policy, book a free consultation with Employment Law Services. Members of our expert team will be happy to provide employment law advice for businesses. Contact us today.

What is the law on redundancy for employees?

Redundancy can happen for any number of reasons, leading to reductions in a business’s workforce. Whether you’re expecting it or not, the important thing is to remain calm. There are laws in place to govern redundancy for employees. This includes redundancy pay, notice periods, the nature of dismissal, and more. 

Knowledge of redundancy law is important for both employees and employers. That’s why we’re breaking down each aspect of employee redundancy law below. 


Redundancy law for employees

It’s enshrined in redundancy law UK for employers that employees are entitled to certain allowances. This is designed to protect employees’ rights and prevent exploitation. Two considerations during a redundancy are: 

  • Compulsory redundancy – an employer selects who to make redundant. Selection must be transparent and based on fair criteria. 
  • Voluntary redundancy – individual workers can volunteer to be made redundant. An employer will approach employees with a redundancy offer when they’re planning to remove certain job roles. 

Reasons for redundancy include: 

  •  Where the business disappears, that is to say the employer is closing down the business altogether 
  • The employer is closing down his business in the place where the employee is actually employed, which could be summarised by saying that the workplace disappears 
  • The business has a diminished need for a particular role 

Employees facing redundancy have rights to the following: 

Redundancy pay 

Typically applies to employees that have worked for their current employer for at least two years. Statutory redundancy pay is not taxable under £30,000 and is calculated based on weekly earnings. For those under 22, it’s half a week’s pay for each full year. Between 23-41 it’s one week’s pay per full year. Then for employees over 41 it’s a week and a half pay per year. 

Exceptions to redundancy pay occur when an employer offers to keep an employee on, or when the employee refuses an offer of suitable alternative work. Employees are also not entitled to statutory redundancy pay if they fall into one of these categories: 

  • Crown servants, armed forces members, police. 
  • Apprentices. 
  • Formerly registered dock workers and share fishermen. 
  • Domestic servants who share a familial connection with the employer 

Along with statutory redundancy pay, employees are entitled to their holiday pay and any contractual company benefits when they’re made redundant. 

Notice period

Employees being made redundant must be given a notice period prior to the end of employment. The duration of this period may vary between jobs, although it will likely be included in the contact. If not stated in the contract, the notice periods for statutory redundancy are: 

  • At least a week for those that have been employed by the same organisation for between one month and two years. 
  • One week per year of employment for those between two and twelve years. 
  • Twelve weeks for those employed for longer than twelve years. 

Employer consultation

Employees are entitled to a consultation with their employer to talk about the reasons for redundancy, as well as any alternatives. There aren’t any associated parameters if there are a total of 19 or less redundancies taking place. However, employers at a single establishment are making 20 or more within a 90-day period, they are bound by collective redundancy rules. 

In this event, the consultation should take place between the employer and a representative. They can either be nominated from among the employees or provided by a trade union. The minimum length of a collective consultation varies depending on the number of redundancies. For 99 or less it can take at least 30 days, and for 100 or more this is 45 days. It covers: 

  • Reasons behind redundancies 
  • Measures to avoid redundancies 
  • How to minimise dismissals 
  • How to limit the effects of redundancy for employees 

UK businesses must notify the Redundancy Payments Service (RPS) before the start of a collective consultation. This is done by filing form HR1. Employers open themselves up to unlimited fines if they don’t follow this procedure. 

Read the full list of legal requirements for collective consultations. 

Option for job moves

Although it’s not guaranteed, employees facing redundancy might be offered suitable alternative employment. This will be in another role within the same organisation. Job suitability criteria includes: 

  • The job terms 
  • The employees’ relative skills, abilities, qualifications, and circumstances 
  • The pay, benefits, status, hours, and location 
  • The similarity of the work compared to the employees’ current role 

Employees offered alternative employment have the right to a 4-week trial period. During this time, they can voice any reservations about the role and decide if the job is unsuitable. Refusing alternative employment during this period will not affect their employee rights, which includes statutory redundancy pay.  

In a similar vein, employees that have been continuously employed for at least two years can request time off to find a new job. Employers can also provide training to help the employee find another job. The amount of time granted will vary depending on the individual’s circumstances. Any time off must be paid up to a maximum of 40% of week’s pay. 


Unfair dismissal

A major aspect of redundancy law is the grounds for dismissal. Under UK law, employees cannot be selected for dismissal due to reasons relating to gender, sex, age, disability, or pregnancy. If you suspect you’ve been subject to an unfair dismissal, or you employer hasn’t fulfilled redundancy responsibilities, you could make a claim to an employment tribunal. 

Employees should also be aware that employers must provide a reason for dismissal that’s consistent across employees. For example, one employee can’t be dismissed when another has done the same thing and kept their job. It’s advisable to obtain your dismissal in writing. 


Get redundancy advice for employers

At Employment Law Services, we understand that redundancy can be an awkward and complicated process. Fortunately, our specialist team are experts in employment law for business. This allows us to help employers and employees make the most of tricky legal situations like redundancy. 

Contact us today.