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Social media policy

22.01.2015

Social networking sites can be a minefield for employers.  There have been countless examples in the press of employees facing disciplinary action for use of social networking sites such as Facebook.  Whilst it is often important for staff to be well connected for marketing purposes, it is more important than ever to have policies in place to deal with matters as they arise.  Employers need a strategy in place to deal with social media and to set out what is acceptable.

Employees need to be made aware that comments posted on social media are in the public domain and that employers often check these websites, particularly at the recruitment stage.  Though 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.  It is best practice to have a policy which confirms that emails will be monitored.

A well drafted social media policy should cover the key issues, including for example, the consequences of posting information or photos which may harm the employer.  The policy should also look at whether the employer or employee will own any contacts gained during the period of employment and what is to happen at the conclusion of employment.  For example, is the employee required to delete the contacts?  A safeguard for employers is to require employees to share any contact details gained during employment, for example by adding them to the main database, so that the employer has the contacts stored centrally.

Individual employment contracts can also be drafted to include post-employment restrictions to try to protect the business’ contacts after the employee leaves the business.

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