LinkedIn and other social networking sites can be a minefield for employers. On the one hand it is usually important for employees to be well-connected to market the business and talk to customers, but on the other hand employers need safeguards in place to deal with social media issues.
Whilst employers often have a ‘no social media in the workplace’ policy, LinkedIn is frequently the exception as it is all about connections in a business context. Employers may permit its use in the work place as a profile builder, not only for the employee but also the employer.
There have been countless examples in the press of employees facing disciplinary action for use of social networking sites such as Facebook. It is more important than ever for employers to have in place policies setting out what is and what is not acceptable. Equally, employees need to be aware that comments posted on social media are in the public domain and that employers do often check these websites, particularly at the recruitment stage. Although employers are entitled to monitor the sites being visited on their equipment both during and outside of work hours, close monitoring of personal emails, postings and internet activity could infringe privacy laws and it is best practice to have a policy which confirms that emails will be monitored.
A well drafted social media policy should also dictate, for example, whether it is the employer or the employee who owns any contacts gained in employment. It should also set out what is to happen at the conclusion of employment. For example, is the employee required to delete the contacts? Another safeguard for employers is to have a back up of contacts so that employees are required to pass any new contact details gained during the employment to the employer to store centrally.
For employees the position upon termination of employment depends on your employment contract and any policies in place dealing with social media. You may have restrictions in your contract prohibiting you from approaching contacts gained whilst employed by your employer and therefore legal advice should be sought.