LTB / BT’s Social Media Policy

BT’s Social Media Policy

The purpose of this LTB is to ask Branches to raise awareness amongst members on how the company’s Social Media procedure can be applied to employees, and try to prevent as many potential disciplinary cases as possible. Social media is the term used for internet-based tools used on computers, tablets, and smart phones to help people keep in touch and enable them to interact. It is also in response to Motion 30 passed at this year’s Conference, a copy of which is attached.

Examples of where the company has applied the disciplinary procedure are people making derogatory remarks about other employees or the company itself. For example the company does not accept there are such things as ‘closed groups’ and if comments or content that are placed on a closed group are reported to the company and they are deemed to damage the organisation’s reputation even if they are made outside of work, can lead to disciplinary action or even dismissal. Critically, ACAS advises that employers are entitled to expect employees to use social media appropriately; this includes both in work and outside of work.

The application of the company’s Social Media policy is being challenged nationally as there are restrictions on the company as to how they may acquire and use any such information. The company has stated that a number of cases they have dealt with have been through employees raising issues directly.

The number of cases escalated to Headquarters is low although the company has taken action against members on this matter.

Below is an extract from the ACAS website listing the various Acts that that can apply. Also copied below for ease of reference is the ACAS link.

Legal considerations

The Human Rights Act 1998 Article 8 gives a ‘right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence’. Case law suggests that employees have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the workplace.

The Data Protection Act 1988 covers how information about employees and job applicants can be collected, handled and used. The Information Commissioner’s Office has published an employment practices code – Information Commissioner’s Office: Quick guide to the employment practices code [PDF, 168kb] – to help employers comply with the law.

The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 covers the extent to which organisations can use covert surveillance.