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Employment lawyers say bosses asking job applicants to reveal Facebook passwords 'not illegal'

London, Sat, 24 Mar 2012 ANI

London, Mar 24 (ANI): The growing trend of hiring managers asking job applicants to hand over their Facebook usernames and passwords is not illegal, some employment lawyers have said.

There have been several cases reported in the US of people being asked for their Facebook passwords while being interviewed for a role.

Paula Whelan, an employment partner at Shakespeares law firm, said there was nothing to stop employers from asking for logins into social media.

Prospective employees, however, had every right to refuse to hand over the said information.

"Prospective employees have every right to say 'no' as it is a request to access personal information and has nothing to do with somebody's capability to do a job. And I cannot see any reason why a boss could not at least ask the question as there is nothing they can do to force an interviewee to hand over their Facebook login," The Telegraph quoted Whelan, as saying.

Whelan also said that it would be extremely difficult if a person thought they didn't get a job because they refused to hand over their login details when asked, to prove it was discrimination.

Ed Goodwyn, a partner in the employment team at commercial law firm Pinsent Masons, however, said that the legal situation was very different if a boss asked a current employee for their Facebook password while employed or continued to access their account post interview without telling them.

He said it would be "a breach of the implied duty of trust and confidence" between employer and employee and urged bosses to draft clear social media policies.

Meanwhile, Sarah Veale, head of equality and employment rights for the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has warned that the practice is likely to start happening more and more in the UK, and described it as both "dangerous and unnecessary".

"I think it's very dangerous and unnecessary to start asking people for access into their personal lives. Once you start asking people to reveal everything about themselves, which is irrelevant to their ability to be able to do a job, you are getting into a tricky area," the paper quoted Veale, as saying.

"It's the equivalent of getting people to spy on prospective staff down at the pub before hiring them," she added. (ANI)

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