80% of employees spend 56 minutes of working day on social media

46% of employers do not have policy on use of websites such as Twitter and Facebook

The browsing of social media services takes up an average of 56 minutes of the working day for more than 80 per cent of Irish employees, a report issued today claims.

Law firm William Fry, which published the report, said that even though 40 per cent of companies had imposed work-time bans on websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, employees were using their mobiles or other devices to get around the restrictions.

The report claims that 46 per cent of Irish employers do not have a social media policy in place, which the law firm said left businesses open to internal disputes, abuse and potential litigation.

However, William Fry associate Catherine O’Flynn said there was a limited value to placing absolute restrictions on social media use by staff.


“Instead, companies should focus on defining realistic limits for access to social media in the workplace,” she said.

The report is based on a combination of telephone and online polling by market research firm Amárach. A total of 200 companies each employing more than 50 people were surveyed by telephone and 500 employes were surveyed online.

The research found there was little clarity when it came to ownership of work related social media accounts, with confusion over what happens to work contacts when an employee leaves a company.

Just 17 per cent of employers who responded to the survey said they had discussed this matter with their employees.

“As the economy recovers and movement within the job market increases, these issues will arise more frequently,” the report says.

It also warns employers that they could be held liable for acts of bullying, harassment or discrimination carried out by employees on social media sites, even if they were carried out without the consent or knowledge of management.

“It will be helpful to an employer’s defence to show that they took practical steps to prevent the act complained of, by having a social media policy which identifies and requires appropriate employee conduct on social media sites,” the report adds.

Almost three quarters of employers (73 per cent) said they were not concerned that confidential business information might be posted on social media sites by employees.

Some 56 per cent of respondents said they encourage their employees to report negative comments made about their business, but 38 per cent of workers said they would do nothing if they came across negative comments about their employer on social media.

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll

Steven Carroll is an Assistant News Editor with The Irish Times