You may have heard it on the news (or maybe even on social media)…

A SBS journalist was fired after sharing an article on facebook which had potential to defame the company.

A British woman was fired for ranting about her boss on social media.

A waitress was fired for tweeting about receiving bad tips.

And the list goes on…

The use of social media during workplace has taken off in recent years and employers are finding hard to keep up. Employees have easier accessibility to the internet and with the popularity of smartphones, it is not surprising that new legal issues are constantly emerging. To manage these legal risks employers must provide employees with a Social Media Policy. This Social Media Policy is a document that forms part of a business’s HR and employment policies. It sets out the responsibilities and obligations that an employee must follow when dealing with social media.

Some of the reasons why you should have a Social Media Policy include:

Educate Employees

The most important reason to get a Social Media Policy is to educate employees on the legal and security risks involved in social networking and what they can do to protect themselves and the company. The policy emphasises the need to use caution and good judgment as comments posted on social networking sites can spread despite the original posting being removed. Some companies use social media to brand themselves and expand market research. In those cases the policy outlines the appropriate use of social media at work and how to minimise the risk of conflict of interest and confidentiality breach

Protect your company against potential litigation

Employees who get fired for their social media use usually fight back with litigation or unfair dismissal claims. This can cost the employer their time and money. With a social media policy, the legal risk can be minimised and the employer can rely on the social media policy to justify the dismissal.

Protect company brand

A Burger King employee in Japan posted a photo of himself lying on a pile of burger buns to Instagram. Taco Bell and Domino’s Pizza employees posted photos and videos of them engaging in inappropriate acts with food. Employees should not be using social media in a way that detriment the company brand. The policy efficiently defines for employees the consequences of what can happen if they engage in behavior that can cast them and their employer in a negative light

Protect staff

A Social Media Policy not only benefits the employer but can also protects staff from online bullying and harassment. The policy can protect targeted employees from teasing and potential defamation.

Assign a designated person for social media use inquiries

Even after the setting out the appropriate use of media, employees can still get it wrong. If a breach is to occur then employees should know who to forward their questions and concerns to.

Having a Social Media Policy can go a long way in getting people to think before they click. A clear and informative policy can be beneficial to employer and employees by creating a delicate balance between restricting the employee’s right to freedom of expression and protecting the employer.

You can easily get a social media policy you need through LawPath. In addition, the LawPath legal document store has a workplace policies bundle for just $199 – providing your business with 11 policies essential for all types of business.

 

Unsure where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

Dominic Woolrych

Dominic is the CEO of LawPath, dedicating his days to making legal easier, faster and more accessible to businesses. Dominic is a recognised thought-leader in Australian legal disruption, and was recognised as a winner of the 2015 Australian Legal Innovation Index.