Social Media Policy – Part I

Oct 7, 2011

Is a complete ban on the use of Company property for personal reasons realistic?

Many employers have computer use policies that ban the use of company property for personal use.

In the age of smart phones, the virtual workplace, and the expectation that employees will be available outside “regular” working hours this kind of ban is not realistic.

So we suggest that every employer review its computer use policy to ensure that the policy is practical and is being consistently enforced.

What restrictions should an employer place on an employee’s social media activity?

A related but more pressing issue that employers are facing right now is how to deal with the world of social media. What restrictions should be placed on an employee’s postings on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and personal blogs?

Employers have started terminating employees for just cause because of social media content an employee has posted. In some cases, the termination has been upheld, and in at least one U.S. case the employee was reinstated.

To deal with this issue, many employers have introduced Social Media policies.

What should be contained in an Employer’s Social Media Policy?

Here are five issues to consider when preparing a Social Media Policy:

1. Is an employee permitted to use personal social media during working hours?

2. Is an employee permitted to use employer property to access social media sites?

3. Is an employee required to comply with employer policies when creating personal social media content?

4. Is an employee prohibited from posting items that could reflect negatively on the employer or otherwise embarrass the organization?

5. Is the employee prohibited from mentioning the name of any of the employer’s personnel without prior approval?

Social media is here to stay. And the lines between a person’s personal life and work life are increasing blurred. Reasonable people can disagree on permitted or appropriate employee social media discourse.

To avoid (or at least minimize) any such confusion employers can introduce social policies which clearly set out what is expected of employees as a condition of employment.

If you wish to discuss how to manage social media use by your employees, please contact us at [email protected] or 416 977-9894 at your convenience.

The material and information in this blog and this website are for general information only. They should not be relied on as legal advice or opinion. The authors make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of any information referred to in this blog or its links. No person should act or refrain from acting in reliance on any information found on this website or blog. Readers should obtain appropriate professional advice from a lawyer duly licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. These materials do not create a lawyer-client relationship between you and any of the authors or the MacLeod Law Firm.

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