By Marcus Leach

New research released by Lewis Communications Limited has shown that social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook have been banned by 48 per cent of companies over the last year.

This news comes at a time when experts are debating the legality of 'tweeting' after a high number of tweets recently revealed so called court protected information.

“It is quite remarkable that in this day and age, many employers are still putting their employees’ interests as a low priority by not allowing them to use sites like Facebook," Vineet Nayar, HCL Technologies’ chief executive, said.

“Banning them outright will impact employees’ approach to work in a negative way, having a detrimental effect on the business as a whole.”

45 per cent of those companies surveyed revealed their biggest concern was fearing their business reputation was at stake.

James Abbott, partner at Baker Watkin sided with the employers who are taking measures to prevent social networking sites being used during office hours.

“I can understand employers being concerned. You have the risk that employees will waste time on social media, or worse the employee says something that reflects badly on the employer," he said.

“Whilst some types of social media can be beneficial to a business, these risks make it imperative that each employer has a written social media employee policy in place. A complete ban will unnecessarily stifle the potential commercial benefits, might be perceived as unreasonable by the employee and may mean the employer actually has less control of their online presence as employees become more secretive.”