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Are you liable for your employees out of hours?

View profile for Julie Temple
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Are you liable for your employees out of hours?

A recent case concluded that a business was not liable for a private social media post made by an employee out of hours and using their own equipment. We discussed the implications of this case at recent HR Forums and the reaction was, it’s fair to say, mild dismay that an employer could be responsible for the actions of an employee in these circumstances.

I then saw another headline: ‘French company liable after employee dies during sex on business trip’. Under French law, apparently, an employer is liable for any accident during a business trip. So in this case, a heart attack during an ‘extra-marital relationship with a perfect stranger’ has been ruled to be an accident.

In the UK, I am confident that the same decision would not be reached. Employers are liable only when their employees act in the course of employment. I wonder what the reaction might have been at the HR Forums about this one?

With that in mind, going back to the employee’s social media post which had been done on a business trip but on their own device and out of hours, the decision would still be the same. The employer would not be liable in the UK as it was not in the course of employment.

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