Many companies are finding that it’s important to create a set social media policy for their employees. The purpose is two-fold. It gives companies the chance to educate their employees on what is allowable according to the company standard. It also gives employees a clear indication that misuse of social media that can negatively impact the company persona meets with disciplinary action in the workplace. As the technology changes, the implementation of a social media policy sounds like a common sense solution. The problem is that your employee’s social media platforms are their personal property. There may well be legal ramifications to your social media policy.
A few short years ago, social media was viewed as a novelty – companies weren’t entirely confident in the marketing potential of such venues. Personal use, while high, wasn’t considered in any serious way. According to a 2014 study on Social Media in the Workplace, more than 70% of employers found the need to take disciplinary action due to misuse of social media by employees.
Legal Considerations When Contemplating Your Company Social Media Policy
There are a few legal considerations when making social media policy. The first thing your company should verify is that your policy doesn’t breech the National Labor Relations Act. There are specific ways that your employee’s rights to free speech are protected under law. Making a written policy which disregards employment laws isn’t likely what your company was aiming to achieve in their policy measures. To be clear, petty gripes aren’t covered; so an employee complaining blindly about work or co-workers isn’t protected under law to do so (and most sensible people know that they can be fired for doing those types of things).
Another consideration that you might not have thought of is your legal liability for taking large portions of control over what employees post. If your policy is so detailed that the company has control over what can and can not be posted, the company can feasibly be found liable for what employees post on their personal social media accounts. That’s not a liability most companies should want to open themselves up to, especially since people are more likely to litigate with a larger entity than a private citizen.
When considering any type of social media policy, realize that common sense issues are already punishable. Make sure that your policy doesn’t overstep too far into your employee’s personal space.
Disclaimer Statement: All information presented is for information purposes only and is not intended to provide professional or legal advice regarding actions to take in any situation.