Blogging brings legal baggage

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Employment lawyers are sending a stark warning to employers that allow their employees to blog at will.

Glovers Solicitors are warning both employees and employers to be aware of the problems that blogs may cause. According to Glovers, you only need to look at case law to see the dangers.

An employee of Waterstones was dismissed in 2005 for gross misconduct and bringing his employer into disrepute as a result of his blog, which contained derogatory nicknames for both the company and the employee's boss. However, the dismissal was successfully appealed.

Sikin Andela, employment lawyer and partner at Glovers, advises employers to start with a clear policy on blogging: "This can be incorporated into an existing internet policy within a contract of employment or employee handbook and should provide a clear definition of blogging and what content will be deemed as unacceptable to the employer.

"The question of whether employees are authorised to access personal blogs during work hours should also be addressed, because employers may be liable for the act of their employee if it is carried out in the course of their employment. Most importantly, it should also set out the consequences which employees will face, should they fall foul of the policy."

Andela said that individuals using a blog should exercise caution when posting comments online, and in particular, those which relate to their employer and the nature of their employment. "It is important to bear in mind that an employee has an implied duty of mutual trust and confidence towards their employers. Any confidential information which is revealed on a blog, or comments which could be deemed to be defamatory, impact negatively on the employer and could mean that an employee is acting in breach of this duty."

There are around 30 million blogs on the world wide web.

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