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Bloggers risk the sack, says survey

Employers should act to minimise risk

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More than a third of employees who keep personal blogs are posting information about their employer, workplace, or colleagues and risk dismissal, according to new research.

Human resources firm Croner commissioned YouGov to ask employees if they kept a personal blog and, if so, what information they post. Of those who keep a blog, 39 per cent admitted they had posted details which could be potentially sensitive or damaging about their place of work, employer, or a colleague.

Gillian Dowling, technical consultant at Croner, said the problem is similar to that of the early days of email use. "In the 1990s when emails were introduced as a new means of communication employees were lulled into a false sense of security by the informality that this type of communication brings," she said.

"Many recipients received rude, angry, or otherwise inflammatory emails which had been written and sent in the heat of the moment. Back then it was common to train staff on the use of emails which included advising employees not to send inappropriately worded emails in haste. Employees were advised that the use of emails was the equivalent of sending or dictating a letter, and just as binding. These concepts remain in email or internet policies today," she said.

"With blogging, the employee, sitting in front of his computer screen, experiences the same lack of embarrassment as there is no face-to-face contact. An employee can be lulled into a false sense of security and sound off about his bad day at work on a blog without fully considering the impact such a posting may have.

"If there is a negative impact on the organisation's corporate image which is so serious that it breaches the implied term of mutual trust and confidence, the employee could be dismissed for gross misconduct," she added.

"The blog could also be evidence of other conduct issues or reveal workplace discrimination or bullying. Confidential secrets could be disclosed including financial information or new product development, or whistleblowing all of which could have a negative impact on the business. Employers need to ensure that they carefully consider the impact of blogging on their organisation and take appropriate steps to minimise any potential risk."

Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

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