The social media policy – a business must have?


Are you an employer who has had to deal with an employees’ inappropriate use of IT systems or social media?

A social media policy is a code of conduct which acts as a guideline for any interactions a company’s employees have on the internet, both as part of their job description, or in their private life.

As the use of the internet and social media has grown, so has the importance of any business having a social media policy. A social media policy educates your employees and sets down the ground rules. There are many examples of employees making comments on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, bringing firms into disrepute.

The aim of a social media policy is to help minimise any potential risk, ensuring all employees know what is expected of them.  Some staff simply won’t appreciate that anything shared on social media has the potential to end up in the public domain.

What should be included in a social media policy?

An employer should set out in writing what they regard as acceptable and unacceptable behaviour.

Make clear whether personal use of social media sites is permitted on computers and mobile phones in your workplace. Be aware of what your business publishes across the range of social media platforms and put appropriate compliance and quality control procedures in place. It should also give clear guidelines for employees on what they can and cannot say about the business.

  1. Acceptable behaviour and use of the internet: are employees allowed any personal use? Are some websites prohibited entirely? i.e. Facebook or online shopping sites such as Amazon.
  2. Smart phones: are employees allowed to use their own phone whilst in work? If the employer provides a phone, what personal use are they allowed? Not just phone calls, but data and internet use – browsing websites, watching videos, downloading apps.
  3. Social networks, including blogging and Tweeting: can employees use social networks and make posts during the working day? It’s a good idea to be very clear about what is and isn’t acceptable to post about. You may have staff who are employed to manage your company’s own social media profile, in which case you will need to be clear about the standards you expect.
  4. Data protection and monitoring: will there be strict monitoring involved? Employees need to be made aware of the monitoring. Logging everything and reading personal emails is likely to be unacceptable.
  5. Disciplinary consequences of a breach of the policy: it’s important to flag to employees, that breaches of the policy may attract disciplinary measures, if appropriate.

Employers should make clear that harassment and bullying of other employees via social media will be treated in the same way as harassment or bullying in any other context. This can be included in an anti-bullying and harassment policy.

For further guidance on social media policies, please contact our employment team on 01792 468684 or email enquiries@pgmsolicitors.co.uk.

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