With the burgeoning uptake of social media, it is unsurprising that many recruiters have used it to identify prime candidates and weed out the not-so-prime; however, an employment law specialist is warning that in doing so recruiters risk breaking the law.

Law firm Moore Blatch has warned recruitment consultants, employers and their head-hunters that they are in danger of breaching privacy, data protection and anti-discrimination laws if they use social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook to vet candidates. This practice is becoming increasingly common, but Moore Blatch cautions that any information collected about prospective candidates via social media could have legal repercussions.

Contracting Umbrella Company employees and permanent candidates alike may see this as timely advice. Although professionals in search of new opportunities take care to ensure their public social media profiles and statuses contain no offensive, indiscreet or personal remarks, anyone may inadvertently make an impromptu comment that could come back to haunt them, especially on less business-orientated social sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Screening through social media is simple and cost-efficient but the social channel is a grey area legally, making it easy for a recruiter or employer to inadvertently breach an individual’s rights.

According to Moore Blatch, the main areas of concern are:

  • It may breach a candidate’s privacy.
  • It may be unfair to candidates who do not use or do not have access to social media.
  • It may result in possible discrimination.

Employers and recruiters should study the guidelines produced by the Information Commissioner’s Office to understand the rules governing background checks on candidates, Moore Blatch advised.

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