RHGThe use of the internet and iphones by workers is increasing, and with social media becoming more and more popular, so too is the use of these devices by employees during work hours.

Whilst some employers may encourage their staff to actively promote the business via social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter, many a boss is lamenting the rise of the thumb-twitching, seemingly constant, updating of employees’ status between nine and five.

The most obvious impact of an employee using work time for personal communications is decreased productivity. But having the employee’s mind more focused on who “liked” what and what they had for breakfast could be the least of the employer’s worries.

The use of social media at work also raises concerns regarding inappropriate conduct which can negatively impact on public perception of the business, or could also lead to bullying and harassment or disclosure of confidential information (whether intentional or not).

There are further risks for employers when attempting to discipline employees who inappropriately use social media.

To combat the risks of inappropriate social media use, it is recommended that employers adopt a social media policy which provides strict guidelines on the use of social media in the workplace, as well as out of hours. Such a policy can also reiterate employees’ responsibilities in relation to harassment and confidentiality.

A standard social media policy should include:

  • a definition of inappropriate use;
  • details of the employer’s expectations in relation to social media use in the workplace;
  • a warning that comments made in private accounts out of hours may result in disciplinary action;
  • reiteration of obligations around the use of confidential information;
  • consequences of inappropriate social media use.

If you think your business could benefit from a social media policy, contact the employment law team at Everingham Solomons where Helping You is Our Business.

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