Following the rules of the game

Michael Colao’s excellent presentation to the ISSA-UK Chapter last week on the legal implications of social networking got me thinking. Not so much about the letter of the law, but more about the consequences of taking it too literally.  

Social networking introduces or amplifies many legal hazards. And Michael’s vivid presentation of them is enough to put many managers off allowing their troops to have access. But let’s face it, there are numerous risks associated with empowering employees and contractors. They can steal from you, sue you and get you into all sorts of trouble. Running a business is certainly not for the faint-hearted.

Legal demands are just one piece of the rich tapestry of employment hazards. And laws are often unclear, contradictory, unreasonable or virtually impossible to implement.  To meet Health and Safety requirements to the letter, for example, you probably have to supervise every individual contractor. In practice, it doesn’t happen. Otherwise no work would get done. 

The real art of compliance is establishing the minimum you can get away with to stop all work grinding to a halt. That’s why we employ lawyers. A good one can steer you through the maze of compliance demands. The thing not to do is to attempt to interpret the legislation yourself, at least not without sound experience of the law or the subject area. 

We are perhaps fortunate that many entrepreneurs are ignorant, dismissive or foolhardy in their response to business risks and compliance requirements. Thank goodness for that. We’d not progress very far if we followed every single rule to the letter.

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