More and more job seekers are looking for their next opportunity on a mobile device. Whether they are browsing jobs on their lunch break or applying for a new role using the LinkedIn app, there’s a growing trend that recruiters need to take note of. Millennials are most likely to reach for a mobile device in order to start their job search, and the latest statistics say at around 47% of millennials use a mobile device for their job search. While it does offer some interesting opportunities for recruiters to cut down on costs and streamline the application process, there are some troubling legal implications that could impact employers and employees.
The rise of mobile technology has changed the way we think about traditional jobs. Just ask the workers at Uber and Deliveroo who were forced into a lengthy legal battle to secure workers’ rights. While a job at Uber doesn’t have a traditional work environment and the entire workflow is managed through an app, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t a full-time job. Uber and Deliveroo tried to circumnavigate employment law by claiming that their workers were freelance contractors, but the evidence stacked up against them. While mobile technology may have tried to sidestep the law on this occasion, it turns out that we haven’t strayed that far from the norm to call for a whole new division of the law just yet.
The rise of the gig economy aside, there are other ways in which mobile technology is stepping on toes. The issue of social media vetting and ongoing monitoring is an issue that is likely to be hotly debated in coming months and years. From a recruiter’s perspective, taking a cursory glance at a prospective hire’s social media profile would almost be seen as common sense. If the information is available, then it would be irresponsible for the employer not to vet candidates based on their social media profiles. However, this raises some interesting legal questions about discrimination.
While a candidate might be revealed to be a poor fit for the company culture, there is the risk of unconscious bias playing a role in the decision making process. The best way a company can get around this is to have an intermediary responsible for vetting social media profiles. With knowledge of employment law in mind, they will then deliver a report on an individual’s social media profiles that only references relevant information. This kind of ethical wall can prevent anything other than required knowledge from influencing hiring decisions. There have already been landmark cases of individuals filing lawsuits against companies for not hiring them based on social media research.
And when a worker joins a company, this doesn’t make the end of problems from an HR perspective. Having a mobile phone and social media policy in place is essential to ensure any disciplinary processes are on the right side of the law. In 2012, Lindsey Stone shared a picture of herself at the Arlington National Cemetery on social media. The picture went viral and she lost her job as a result. The shocking part about this story is that her employer wasn’t the one who saw the picture and decided to take disciplinary action, it was strangers on the internet who decided to took issue with the photograph and put pressure on the company to let her go. It’s a cautionary tale for anyone who posts on social media without a basic understanding of privacy settings, but it also highlights the importance having an internet usage policy in place.
As it stands, the law is still very much on top of hiring issues. Issues arise with employers and HR professionals circumnavigate the protections that have been put in place to ensure a fair playing field. Whether this is intentional or otherwise, it isn’t sufficient to blame technology for muddying the waters in mobile hiring practices. The law is very clear, and employers should still remain compliant.