Social Media Policies

Employee access to social mediaSocial Media and your employees! Social Media has not only knocked on the door but come in and has taken a seat!

By now most employers are “or should be” aware that their employees are visiting at least one and probably more social networking sites either outside of the workplace or during
work hours.

Concerned with what their employees post on these sites many employers are incorporating “Social Media” policies in their handbooks. Will your social media policy pass the grade if audited by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)?

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in response to employee complaints has asked several regional offices to submit employer social media policies for review.

In the past the NLRB took the position that social media postings were the same as “water cooler conversations – conversations between employees at work” and in general should be governed by the “old” rules under the NLRB.

An important distinction however, between social media and water cooler conversations – social media is not in the workplace, rather it goes out over the Internet and comments may not necessarily be directed towards the workplace, employer or employees.

Realizing social media goes out into the world, the NLRB recently reviewed several cases that concerned such policies and may be adjusting its’ standards (employers don’t get too excited, NLRB isn’t drastically changing the rules) since such statements have the potential to cause greater harm to the workplace than water cooler conversations.

As a precaution your handbook should have both a Social Media policy and an Anti-Harassment policy. A few statements to include in your policies:

  • Company “prohibits employees from sharing confidential and proprietary company information on line”;
  • Company “prohibits employees from using vulgar or obscene language on line or posting intimidating or harassing materials (make sure to use NLRB approved language such as “prohibiting use of social media to post or display comments about coworkers, supervisors or the employer that are vulgar, obscene, threatening, intimidating, harassing or a violation of the employer’s workplace policies against discrimination, harassment or hostility on account of age, race, religion, sex, ethnicity, nationality, disability or other protected class, status or characteristic”;
  • Company states “online harassment is a serious matter and treated the same as all other harassment claims”

As a precaution any handbook or policy should be reviewed by legal counsel.

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