Changes in technology have transformed the way we work in the last twenty years. While these advances have benefited the workplace, they have also created extra responsibilities for employers.
This is particularly so in relation to social media. This is the term used for networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. The use of social media has exploded in Ireland in recent years.
The two main issues for employers are:
- Productivity – employees misusing social media when they should be working;
- Employees using social media to make disparaging remarks about their employer and damaging its reputation.
A number of cases have come before the Employment Appeals Tribunal where employers have dismissed employees for misuse of Facebook and Bebo. It is clear from these cases that it is absolutely vital that employers have a policy in place setting out how social media will be dealt with in the workplace.
Please make sure that you have a social media policy in place. The following are the main issues to be addressed:
- The policy should set out what is acceptable usage and what is prohibited – for example there should be a prohibition on the posting of derogatory comments about the company, its products, its staff or its customers or clients. Or posting confidential information.
- The policy should set out the consequences of breaching the policy. These should be in line with the normal disciplinary procedures that would be used when an employee is being disciplined for any misconduct.
- The policy could refer to monitoring of the employee’s use of social media in the workplace. It is important that any monitoring is in line with data protection principles in that it is transparent and proportionate.
- The policy should be circulated and ideally the employee should sign the policy to show that they have received it and are aware of its contents.
If the policy is breached make sure that you follow the disciplinary procedures outlined and that any sanction you take against the employee is proportionate to the misconduct.
If you have any queries please contact Helen Coughlan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 045 431542. All her contact details are on our website.