Social Media in the Workplace: What happens when employment is terminated?


Most businesses these days have a presence on social media sites, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Their employees will likely have their own accounts on these same sites which they may use for their employer’s benefit. In fact, many businesses now encourage employees to make new contacts and boost their marketing efforts via these sites.

This, however, can cause problems for employers who wish to preserve and protect valuable business information when the employment relationship comes to an end. For example in relation to business contacts, these can build up in an employee’s personal social media account and remain available to them after termination. These same contacts may then become lost to the employer after the employment has terminated as a result of being held on the employee’s personal account.

While this remains an emerging area of law, there a number of steps that a savvy employer can take to protect its business interests, including:

  • Requiring employees to add new business contacts to a central database thereby reducing the risk of contact details being lost to the employer.
  • Requiring employees to use the employer’s social media accounts where business contacts will be retained by the employer and no longer be accessible to an employee following termination.
  • Contractually requiring employees to delete any contacts made by them during their employment from their personal accounts when they leave the business.
  • Amending any post-termination contractual restrictions to take account of an employee’s engagement with social media.
  • Having a social media policy which makes clear, among other things, whether employees are permitted to add business contacts to their personal accounts, and what should happen to these on termination of employment.

While the enforceability of the above has yet to be determined, there is no doubt that such steps will have a deterrent effect on employees.

If you have any questions about how you can better protect your business, contact Sara Mayhew at Artington Legal on +44 7717346204 or email sara-mayhew@artington.com.

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