Aftermath of KPMG Girl Video Can Be a Lesson To Employers

Aftermath of KPMG Girl Video Can Be a Lesson To Employer. Reported in the Journal, KPMG have asked staff to warn them of any ‘inappropriate coverage’ they may receive on the Internet.

This comes in the wake of the now infamous KPMG Girl YouTube video (which has since been removed) where a young girl in one of Dublin’s late night fast food restaurants repeatedly shouts at onlookers that her father is a partner in KPMG.

Aftermath of KPMG Girl Video Can Be a Lesson To Employers

The email to staff goes on to say that in order for the firm to “promptly and appropriately” deal with situations where its name or brand is “treated inappropriately” staff are asked to notify management if they become aware of “inappropriate coverage of KPMG” on the internet or other social networks.  It also reminds staff of the Company’s IT Appropriate Use Policy and in particular a section on the use of social media. The email quotes the section of the document which says, “…any information that may cause damage to KPMG’s reputation or may be considered confidential or commercially sensitive, including information (commercial or personal) about clients, colleagues, contractors and other third parties associated with KPMG, must not be posted to an online/internet network under any circumstances.”

Social Media is becoming more and more prevalent in the daily workings of business and KPMG rightly states “We all need to be vigilant around the pervasiveness of social media today and the serious risk that inappropriate use of social media can pose to a business brand and/or the potential impact to an individual’s personal and professional reputation. This means that we need to  be more aware of the growing power and popularity of social media and the potential impact on ourselves and others.”

Clear Usage Policy

It is vital that all employers should have a clear social media and IT usage policy in place to defend against such incidents, and the lack of which may be detrimental to an employer’s case in Tribunal. If we look back to the case of Preece -v- Wetherspoons, the employee was held by the tribunal to have been fairly dismissed for posting derogatory comments regarding customers on Facebook.  The Company staff handbook stated expressly that acts committed outside work that bring the employer into disrepute would constitute misconduct. The company also reserved the right to take disciplinary action where a blog posting tended to lower the reputation of the company. The Tribunal found that with all of these factors taken into consideration the Company was justified in their actions.

By re-affirming their stance on this KPMG are making very clear that the use of IT systems is a necessity for the day-to-day running of the business, however it is not something that should be taken for granted, and all staff must follow the Company guidelines when making use of Company equipment. A prime example of this comes from another large accountancy firm , PWC, who were part of an email scandal in 2010. Emails leaked to the media showed senior partners were ranking the attractiveness of their female colleagues.  These actions brought the Company into disrepute and had serious ramifications for those involved.

A well thought out policy can be the difference between a fair or unfair dismissal, and Companies should be aware that there are risks associated with IT usage and must endeavour to manage these in a proactive and reasonable manner. The KPMG Girl video, whilst regrettable, presents a very real lesson for employers that Social Media has a way of involving Companies whether they like it or not, and the only way to combat this is by addressing it with those who can make the biggest contribution to this, the employees



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