A global survey of 10,000 people by PwC, done to look at how
the workforce would evolve in the next eight years, found
more than 30 per cent of participants would willingly give
their employers access to personal data such as social media
profiles to enable them to better understand what made them
PwC partner and HR transformation specialist Debbie Francis
said there appeared to be a new way of thinking among the
younger generation, who took a view that employers should be
using good sources of data on the workforce, rather than
seeing it as a muck-raking expedition.
"Granting data access to employers will give them the ability
to better anticipate and measure performance and employee
retention, and could extend to the monitoring of employees'
health to reduce sick leave."
Ms Francis said that while handing over access to social
media profiles relied on a high level of trust between the
two parties, it was also down to the employer to demonstrate
obvious incentives for doing so.
But Dundas Street Employment Law partner Susan Hornsby-Geluk
said employers mainly used social media to help discipline a
current employee or trawled social media sites to vet a
"It would be fairly creative for employers to take a more
sort of pro-active approach of screening Facebook profiles to
see how happy their employees are. To be frank, I'm not not
aware of many employers doing that -- you would need to have
a lot of time and resources."
Employers had in the past used social media to prove a staff
member had taken sick leave when there was evidence on
Facebook to suggest they were not ill.
Ms Hornsby-Geluk had also been involved in a case when an
employee had been disciplined and then dismissed for posting
derogatory comments about their employer.
Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Thomas Beagle believed
that giving employers access to social media was not
appropriate and blurred the line between personal and private
"Your personal life contains all sorts of things which is no
business of your employer -- your sexuality, some of your
Of more concern to him was that staff would also be giving
away a lot of their friends' privacy as well.
Mr Beagle said employers could use their access to social
media profiles to try to find out if a staff member was
looking for a new job.
- Nikki Preston of the NZ Herald