To Post Or To Not Post Online?

Increasingly we are hearing of cases whereby employees have posted something the employer feels is inappropriate online, and as an employer it’s important to consider if this is something you can address. The answer will hopefully be found in your social media policy, but all too often we find that social media is referred to in a general internet usage policy, or indeed not at all in an employee handbook.

With the recent case of The British Waterways Board (t/a Scottish Canals) v Smith helping to provide some guidance on the matter, now is a good time to review the best approach for your organisation: The decision in this case was that dismissal of an employee for derogatory comments made on Facebook was been deemed to be fair at the Employment Appeal Tribunal, overturning the original Tribunal decision providing reassurance for employers that they can act in line with their social media policies.

Be proactive

We recommend that employers are proactive in taking steps to communicate their social media policy to employees, and that they update it regularly to reflect any developments in technology and/or case law:

  • Consider if you require your employees to use social media for business purposes. If yes, be sure to draw a distinction between this type of use and personal use within your policy, and also address ownership of the account;
  • Ensure your social media policy sets out expectations of employees when they are engaging on social media. You should provide clear guidance as to what they can disclose/express if posting on behalf of the company, and if employees are permitted to access social media websites/applications at work;
  • Provide training for your manager/s on the use of social media within their team/s. Well informed managers will be able to communicate expectations and standards clearly to their teams to promote a culture of thoughtful social media content, discouraging employees from posting something negative or defamatory, or engaging in unacceptable behaviour using the medium of social media;
  • Consider educating/reminding your employees of privacy settings and the potential impact of inappropriate social media behaviour (as outlined in your policy), as employees may not realise that comments on social media may be seen by their colleagues and/or employer, and can easily bring the company into disrepute. This therefore may prove positive for employees who will be clear then as to what is considered appropriate and thus acceptable.

We at Willis Consulting and Employment Services can work in partnership with you to help you identify the best approach for your business, develop your social media policy and deliver management training. We can also help you to update your policy regularly and address any issues which may arise from your employees use of social media. Call us today on 02890 329042 or email info@willisconsulting.co.uk and a member of the Willis Consulting team will be happy to help. 

Kind regards

Janet Kerrigan

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