It’s not unusual…

It’s not unusual…not for Lloyd’s

How many elephants can you fit in a jumbo jet? Would you believe ten! That was the very important passenger count in a shipment of (live)stock insured in 2004 by Lloyd’s of London.

Lloyd’s made its name by specialising in insuring the unusual, weird and wonderful so it came as no surprise to be asked to cover the 36 hour transatlantic flight of ten elephants. “A mammoth task”, said Robert Wells, livestock underwriter at Lloyd’s XL syndicate. Thanks to sound risk management and thorough planning, the flight, memorable to at least 10 on board, went without a hitch with cargo delivered safely.

Elephants in transit are just one of many unusual insurance risks taken on by Lloyd’s. A two-headed albino rattlesnake was another. Although only covered against restricted perils because an earlier insured snake had died, this one ended badly too when, in an apparent disagreement between the respective heads, fatal consequences occurred when one head bit the other.

And, perhaps verging on the disgusting, a Lloyd’s insured, frozen sculpture melted after builders accidentally disconnected the freezer it was stored in. The work was a life-sized cast of the artists head made from 9 pints of the artists blood. The claim submitted was for approximately one million pounds.

The cleaning bill was not recorded. An insurance icon since 1688, you can bet there are many more stories of quirky covers in the annals of Lloyd’s of London. We’ll dig into the archives to bring you more snippets in future editions of Brokerwise.

Employees misusing social media!

Employees misusing social media!

How social media can ruin a business

Business owners beware!  Even if you or your businesses are not active in the social media space, your employees’ online actions can have a lasting real life impact.

In a well-known case from 2011, an employee of Linfox Australia Pty Ltd was dismissed for posting offensive and discriminatory comments about two of his managers on his Facebook profile page.

The Fair Work Commissioner recognised that the posted comments were ‘outrageous and distasteful’, but found that Linfox did not have grounds to dismiss the employee.  At the time of the dismissal and the hearing, Linfox did not have a social media policy.

In the recent case of Malcolm Pearson v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd [2014], the Fair Work Commission held that it is not “harsh, unjust, or unreasonable” to expect an employee to comply with a social media policy that operates outside, as well as inside, the workplace. In this case, Linfox (presumably having learned from its previous experience) had implemented a social media policy and Mr Pearson’s refusal to sign this policy, amongst other shortcomings, constituted a valid reason for dismissal. The Commission dismissed the unfair dismissal case on the basis that the social media policy was a legitimate exercise by Linfox in protecting its reputation and security. The Commission recognised that the natural overlap between public and private life makes such an “invasive” policy necessary.

“It is difficult to see how a social media policy designed to protect an employer’s reputation and the security of the business could operate in an ‘at work’ context only…Gone is the time where an employee might claim posts on social media are intended to be for private consumption only.”

These decisions form part of an evolving body of case law that reflects the increasing prevalence of social media and a more sophisticated understanding of its implications in the workplace.

So what should employers do to protect their interests?  Most experts agree that employers should:

Implement a comprehensive social media policy

Adequately train their employees in the policy and ensure they are aware of the employer’s expectations around social media in and out of the workplace, and

Regularly review the policy to maintain currency.

Employers should be mindful that courts and tribunals are increasingly willing to hold employees accountable for social media misuse. Hence, employers should not shy away from robust disciplinary actions when the circumstances are appropriate.