Banning access to social networking sites at work is an over-reation says TUC

A total ban on employees accessing Facebook, MySpace or Bebo at work is an “over-reaction”, the TUC has warned.

Instead, employers should trust staff to spend a few minutes of their lunchbreak ‘poking’ their friends or making plans for activities outside of work, setting out clear policies for using social networking sites at work, as described on the TUC worksmart website.

The warning follows news earlier this month that Facebook has been banned at Transport for London, LloydsTSB, the Metropolitan Police and Credit Suisse.

TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “Simply cracking down on use of new web tools like Facebook is not a sensible solution to a problem, which is only going to get bigger.

“It’s unreasonable for employers to try to stop their staff from having a life outside work, just because they can’t get their heads around the technology.”

Many employers have disciplined staff for their conduct online, including the sacking of an Argos employee for posting derogatory comments about his employer on Facebook.

But the TUC said that while employers are right to be concerned about security risks involved with using social networking sites, or damage to the reputation of the company, not enough workplaces are informing staff about what they expect in terms of personal conduct when using social networking sites.

Nor should employers be tempted to check out job applicants’ profiles on Facebook, according to Barber.

“As only a minority of potential recruits will have public profiles on social networks, using information from this source can give an unfair advantage or disadvantage to certain candidates,” he said.

Listen to the Radio Five Live debate: using Facebook at work, featuring Personnel Today‘s Work Clinic blogger, Natalie Cooper.

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