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Scandal!

Scandal is definitely bad for business. Public sackings and Scandal is definitely bad for business. Public sackings and resignations are a prominent feature in today’s business, cultural, political and sporting landscape. The next scandal to hit the headlines is never too far away. So we didn’t have to do too much digging to uncover examples of politicians, sports stars and celebrities who’ve all been issued their P45s for wrongdoings outside of and during working hours.

Why is it that caught-out employees in the public eye often pay the highest price?

The world of sport is certainly not squeaky clean. We just need to open the newspapers this week to read about football’s ‘Mr Untouchable’: FIFA President Sepp Blatter, who has resigned amid a corruption scandal set to taint the sport for many years to come. The allegations of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering which led to the arrests of several FIFA officials have now engulfed him too.

Athletes themselves can also damage their sport’s reputation and get the axe. Whilst Footballers and their raucous nights on the town are undoubtedly the tabloids’ favourite, it’s the (apparently more) noble and gentlemanly sport of Rugby that’s stolen the headlines recently. Followers of English Rugby for example were gutted to learn of the dropping of two star players from the Rugby World Cup 2015 Training Squad before the competition has even begun! One for a case of on-pitch misconduct and currently serving a ban, and another for an off-pitch incident which led to the assault of two Police Officers. A third’s place hangs in the balance upon the outcome of a drink-driving allegation.

Now we look to politics. Wherever there are politicians there is scandal. One of the most notable instances of public outrage at politicians – leading to resignations, arrests and even jail – was the abuse of the expenses system. Stories of second homes, moats and duck houses left the public in despair.

And what about Chris Huhne? Guilty of perverting the court of justice, removed from his top-level post in the cabinet after a lengthy court case in which he was accused of attempting to pass driving-license points onto his then wife. Examples of those in high-level positions, creating more scandal for an already beleaguered institution are many and varied.

Now, it used to be that employers weren’t greatly concerned with what employees got up to outside of working hours, as long they turned up fresh-faced and ready to go in the morning. But things have changed. Nowadays with the ease and speed in which information can be distributed, particularly via social media, the damage that the actions of one can do to their employer, the organisation and the brand is frightening.

Although many of these scandalous incidents occurred outside of the workplace they still impact upon it. Causing negative headlines and brand damage can be deemed as ‘bringing the organisation into disrepute’, which can fall under ‘Gross Misconduct’.

Aside from the high profile cases highlighted in this post, all businesses big and small have a brand to protect; so it wouldn’t hurt to make sure your HR policies and procedures are set in place to do just that. And what happens if your company ends up in the media for the actions of an employee? Are you clear on how to limit reputational damage and have you got a budget in place to pay for it?

As a customer of The HR Dept you would have access to our Legal Expenses Insurance which includes Crisis Communication Cover providing access to professional public relations and crisis communication services to manage adverse media publicity and reputational exposure. Give The HR Dept a call to learn more.