Council suspensions for social media misuse on the rise

Written by Colin Marrs on 25 January 2016 in News
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More than 50 council workers were suspended last year for breaking rules on the use of social media, according to an investigation.

BBC Radio 5 Live will today broadcast the results of requests it made to authorities under Freedom of Information legislation.

The figures show that at least 51 workers were suspended, although the exact number is probably higher due to some councils not specifying how many of their employees were involved. The number is a 19% rise on last year.

A spokesman for the Local Government Association said: "Councils are clear that while some personal use of social media at work is acceptable, it must be reasonable and appropriate in terms of both the time spent and the content."

"The vast majority of council employees abide by that. Councils take very seriously any misuse and, as these figures show, will deal robustly with cases that are unacceptable."


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However, the investigation showed that only a minority of those suspended left their positions by resigning or being sacked.

The data also reveals that 11 council staff were suspended for viewing online porn.

A further 114 staff were issued with warnings about social media guidelines.

Among the breaches highlighted by the BBC, Swindon Borough Council said it suspended a worker for making threatening comments towards a colleague on Facebook.

Leeds City Council took action against two employees over online racial comments.

And in Cheshire West and Chester Council, a worker posted rude messages about the public on Facebook while on duty.

A total of 169 councils provided data to the BBC, with 22 refusing and 27 not replying.

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