Posted on 13th November 2007

Businesses Warned to be Aware of the Bloggers

As weblogs, or blogs, become increasingly popular, Nick Poole, employment law solicitor at Darlington law firm Latimer Hinks is warning the regions employers to beware of the risks represented by these sites. Recent figures* show that 39 percent of bloggers admit that they have posted sensitive or damaging accounts of their employer, workplace or colleagues on a weblog, or on-line diary. Nick said: "Blogs are becoming increasingly popular as they allow workers to voice their views and grievances in an anonymous forum, usually free from risk of discovery.

Surprisingly, a recent survey revealed that over a third of all bloggers admit to naming their employers and making damaging or derogatory comments about them. "It goes without saying that such action can be the cause of untold harm and cost to a business. Bosses must protect the interests of the business and the privacy of the staff. The dangers are that employees may reveal confidential information or trade secrets on-line, they could damage the reputation of the company or defame or harass colleagues through their blogs.

The increasingly sophisticated technology readily available makes it more difficult for employers to control the web activities of their employees. There are, however, measures that employers can take to manage the risks. Nick said: "The implementation of a comprehensive communications policy, including a specific section on the use of blogs and blogging, can be an effective tool in monitoring risk and preventing damage. This can be a delicate task but one that employers need to be increasingly aware of. "A good policy should remind staff to take particular care to ensure that they do not disclose any sensitive or confidential information about the company or fellow workers. It should stress the need for bloggers to make it clear that any opinions are theirs alone and not those of the company and prevent any content which is not consistent with any other company policies, such as those on equal opportunities or harassment.

"Making a contravention of the communications policy a disciplinary offence and setting out what the penalties for breaching the policy will be should help to ensure that employees can still indulge in blogging but in a responsible fashion that does not impact on their workplace. Notes: Latimer Hinks uses responsible blogging as a means of communicating with clients and informing the public of legal issues.