‘Liking’ a Social Media Policy?

‘Like’ it or not, ‘tweeting’, ‘posting’ and ‘sharing’ is now common and routine; and, for some people, indispensable in sharing news, opinions and stories.

Businesses and organisations, too, are regular users of this media to reach their audience.

Everyone has heard of instances of issues arising.  For example, a staff member can like, tweet or post something that exposes the employer to liability.

In one Fair Work Commission example, an employee posted on Facebook that he “wonders how the….work can be so….useless and mess up my pay again; …are going down tomorrow.”  The comments were disparaging of the employer and suggested threats to a work colleague.  The employee had 70 friends and thought there was no harm in his limited circle being entertained by his thoughts.  The Fair Work Commission was unable to share this view, and did not think this employee was unfairly dismissed.

In another case, an employer contended it was justified terminating the employment of an employee who accessed his Google Mail account 3,000 times in three months.   The employer justified its actions by pointing to productivity concerns and feeling the employee received wages unjustly.  The Fair Work Commission was not convinced, primarily as the employer could not sufficiently prove the excessive use of  mail during work time.  However, the case illustrates problems can arise by someone distracted with matters on line.

It seems when you think you’ve solved everything, something comes up demanding yet another policy.

You may not have the resources of companies like Telstra who engage 60 people to monitor every social media site, but there are things you can do to try and cover potential liability. For example, it would be a sensible thing for an organisation to at least ensure the workplace rules about conduct on line are written down and communicated to everyone.

BTW, watch out for WhatsApp!