Managing employees' use of social media

With the popularity of social media, employers are finding that employees are turning to such sites to air grievances about their employer and fellow colleagues. If an aggrieved employee, or former employee, chooses to post negative material about work online then this has the potential to cause serious damage to the employer’s reputation at the click of a button.

There is also potential for employers to be liable for the activities of their employees whilst online and arising from their online behaviour. 

Employers should take proactive steps to encourage responsible online behaviour and ensure they are in a position to take action if any employee’s behaviour falls below the standards. These steps should also help to limit possible damage to their reputation.

  • Introduce a social media policy. Ensure that this sets out the standards of conduct expected from staff. Make clear that a breach of the policy may lead to disciplinary action, including dismissal. As an alternative, you can make it clear existing policies and standards cover online behaviour.

  • Review and update existing policies. Ensure that other policies, such as disciplinary and grievance, equal opportunities, bullying and harassment, and IT policies, are updated to cover online activities by employees.

  • Train staff. Ensure that staff are aware of your policies. Training ensures that individuals understand what they can and can’t do and is good evidence they were aware of the standards expected.

  • Monitor content. Ensure that you have the consent of the employee to monitor and rely on their online activity. We recommend that this information is included in your employee privacy notice and IT and communications policies.

If you don’t have the correct tools in place to manage employees’ use of social media then this can make it difficult to defend disciplinary action where this is taken.

If you need advice, please contact one of our specialist employment and HR team on 01206 217300.



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