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 in the workplace has taken off in recent years and employers are finding hard to keep up. Employees have easier access 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 that an employee must follow when dealing with social media. This includes both during and outside workplace hours.
Some of the reasons why you should have a Social Media Policy include:
Arguably, the most important reason to get a Social Media Policy is to educate employees on the legal and security risks involved in social networking. The policy can inform them what they can do to protect themselves and the company. Placing importance on the need to use caution and good judgement should be apart of the policy. This includes comments as well as posts on social media, as comments can spread despite the original post 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 a conflict of interest or a confidentiality breach.
Protecting your company against litigation
Employees fired for social media use may make an unfair dismissal claim. This can cost the employer their time and money. A social media policy provides the justification needed to dismiss the employee, while minimising legal risk for the business.
Protecting the 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 have posted photos and videos of them engaging in inappropriate acts with food. Employees should not be using social media in a way that is detrimental to the company brand. The policy efficiently defines for employees the consequences of what can happen if they engage in behaviour that can cast them and their employer in a negative light.
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.
Assigning a 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 balance between restricting the employee’s right to freedom of expression and protecting the employer.
Therefore, a Social Media Policy can provide a great deal of clarity for employees and employers alike. It can importantly help to protect your business reputation. You can easily get a social media policy you need through Lawpath. In addition, the Lawpath legal document store has a workplace policies bundle providing your business with policies essential for all types of business.