The explosion of social media in the last 5 to 10 years and continued advancement of the internet, satellite, home and business security (CCTV), motor vehicle, and mobile phone technology has meant that the investigation industry has had to innovate and adapt to these changes.
While traditional investigation methods are extremely useful, innovation in the gathering of intelligence and evidence has been enhanced through development of non-traditional investigative techniques and strategies to assist employers and businesses manage risk.
Unfortunately, with the increasing use of social media we have seen increased levels of anxiety for individuals, employers and their staff. The posting of inappropriate comments or personal attacks on social media provides one of the biggest challenges for employers and staff with maintaining health, safety and productivity in the workplace. There is also reputational risk that employers need to manage.
Employers now more than ever before have to be aware of the impact social media is having on mental health and workplace productivity. Staff also need to be aware of the impact of comments posted on social media relating to their employer or work colleagues, and the potential breach of their employment contract, whether it happens during work or socially after hours.
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Harassment complaints need to be proactively investigated and managed, and it is wise for employers who receive a complaint of harassment to work with their HR professionals, and employment solicitor to address the complaint.
A key resource that should not be overlooked is an outside independent workplace investigator, as the issues of procedural fairness are of utmost importance.
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Often the investigation into a workplace complaint is a key to potential liability. A third-party neutral workplace investigator is the best option for conducting a thorough, unbiased, and timely investigation.
Employers should not always rely solely on an HR staff member, or even an external HR consultant to conduct a lawful investigation.
Employers can reduce their exposure by;
- Implementing a detailed social media policy;
- Affording procedural fairness when investigating social media misuse;
- Considering the content and context of comments;
- Considering the nature and availability of comments to the public;
- Taking into account an employees individual circumstances
A proactive approach to social media use can provide a strong basis for employers when addressing employee conduct.
For assistance with any workplace investigation human resource professionals should consider advice from their solicitor about engaging an investigator to conduct an independent misconduct investigation
If you require a assistance with these internal workplace investigations please contact our investigations team for assistance.