Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are now a norm in our society and as such it is worthwhile for businesses to have a social media policy in place. Social media policies can apply to any company-based social media site, instant messaging, etc, but can also be written to include employees’ private social media sites.

It is reasonable to provide that an employee who uses social media and who has his/her settings on ‘public’ must not:

  • make any slanderous, derogatory, discriminatory or otherwise offensive comments about any staff, management or affiliates of the business
  • defame the employer on any social media site, and/or
  • bring the employer into disrepute.

In addition to the above you can provide that where employees have internet access, it is for work purposes and all material posted on the system, including emails, remains the property of the business. You may choose to specify that an employee may have limited personal use of the internet during non-work hours, such as lunch or morning/afternoon tea. Set out in the policy what you deem to be appropriate or inappropriate use of internet access, email or social media sites.

State the consequences of breaching the policy by way of inappropriate use of social media. This may include disciplinary action such as a verbal or written warning and, in some very serious cases, dismissal. Ensure that the stated consequences are in line with any other disciplinary policy you may already have in place.

As with the introduction of any policy, a meeting should be held with staff to introduce them to the new or updated policy. It is recommended that you provide each employee with a copy of the policy and have them return a signed acknowledgement confirming they have read and understood it.

Ted Kowalski

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