Along with benefits of social media for your business in terms of team building and visibility for your brand, there are a number of risks from time-wasting to defamation. How can employers navigate this issue responsibly without being heavy-handed?
It’s likely that the majority of your employees will have some form of personal social media account e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Although according to the Human Rights Act 1998 employees can expect the right to privacy in their home life, lines can become blurred when people identify the company or their colleagues in social media activity. This can result in damage to the company’s reputation, accusations of cyber bullying or harassment.
There are examples of employers becoming aware of workers who are on sick leave behaving in a way that undermines their reason for absence. However, managers should be wary of snooping – if you are to access and act on information available in social media platforms you must be able to prove that there is a legitimate business need and that it is reasonable and proportionate.
If your business has a company social media account, you should be clear about who has access to it and the passwords should be secured. Train those responsible in the type of information that should be shared and whether posts need to be authorised.
Some businesses will use online collaboration tools which include messaging between colleagues so you may need consider best practice for these.
Rules on the personal use of social media and the internet etc. will partly depend on the working environment. An office environment will have different considerations to one where there may be safety or safeguarding issues. You want to avoid time-wasting without alienating your hard-working employees. In most cases an outright ban could seem extreme.
In all these points having a clear policy is key. This can be included in your staff handbook and should set our clear boundaries on when/if it is permissible to use social media and the internet within the work context. The right to monitor should also be included, as should the repercussions for breaches of the policy. The online world is rapidly changing so review your policies regularly to keep up to date.
For employers our key message is to have a policy and make sure your employees are aware of it.
For employees, always apply common sense before posting and remember that anything shared online has the potential to be public.
If you would like to discuss including a social media policy in your handbook please get in touch.
Examples of cases involving social media related dismissals
RBA provides employers with a complete support service to deal with all Employment Matters. Whether your business is expanding or starting up, employs 5 or 250 people, has an internal HR / Personnel function or not, RBA can help
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