Should we use Facebook to vet potential new employees?

Should we use Facebook to vet potential new employees?

September 1, 2021

It can be tempting to look for potential new employees on Facebook and other social media platforms before making a job offer?

People have so much of their lives online these days. However if you are going to vet them by looking at their online presence its only fair that you tell them that this is part of your recruitment process. If you then do you need to be careful as there are risks.

There are risks of using social media to vet an employee. Let’s look at these.
  1. Discrimination – this is a biggie! What if they allege that you found something about them that is a protected characteristic and this is why you didn’t make them an offer.
  2. Breaching the Data Protection Act 2018 – data controllers should not hold excessive information and should not process information unfairly.
  3. Breaching the Human Rights Act 1998, which provides the right to respect for private and family life. Case law has established that employees should have little expectation of privacy in respect to what they post online but there is a risk that you may be accused of a breach of this.

These are two guides that it is a good idea to be familiar with if you are intending to monitor your potential or actual employees online activity.

  1. ACAS Guide
  2. ICO Employment Practices data protection code
So what if you do see something online that you feel you should discuss with an applicant.

Our advice would be to be honest. That you have seen X and you would like to talk to them about it. Perhaps you are concerned about their security settings. Some people aren’t aware that they need to tighten their security settings before they work in certain sectors. For example if you run an After School Club catering for children up to the age of 13 (not uncommon in these parts where we have a 3 tier education system) then there is a good chance that the children in the club will have access to social media. It was because children were accessing Facebook younger and younger that many teachers starting revising their names from Jane Smith to Jane Louise.

If you need any assistance with any aspect of recruitment and selection, please give us a call on 01527 909436.


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