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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

9 Tips for Drafting a Social Media Employee Policy

If you are an employer, you have probably dealt with (or will deal with) employees' use of social media.  This might include excessive use of social media by employees at work, negative comments made by employees about their job or their boss, release of confidential information about the company or its customers/clients, and a variety of other situations that might require employer action.  Most of you probably already have in place a policy for employee use of company computers, laptops, tablets, cell phones and the like.  But, have you reviewed your policy lately to make sure it covers social media use?
A social media policy should clearly establish guidelines and boundaries so employees can anticipate and understand their companies' expectations and restrictions about their use of social media.  
Although each employer should create a social media policy tailored to the particular employer’s workplace, the following are a few tips for employee use policies:    
1.  The policy should communicate to employees whether social media use in the workplace will be prohibited, monitored, or allowed.  If allowed, the policy should provide guidelines as to what constitutes reasonable use.

2.  The policy should be careful not to excessively restrict the content of employee social media postings to the extent that “protected concerted activity” among the company’s employees would be prohibited. For example, a social media policy should not ban “inappropriate discussions” about the company, management, working conditions, or coworkers that would be considered protected speech in another form or forum.

3.  The policy should caution employees that they have no expectation of privacy while using the Internet on employer equipment.

4.  If employees will be monitored, the policy should inform employees of that monitoring.

5.  The policy might also require employees who identify themselves as employees of a particular government or company to post a disclaimer that any postings or blogs are solely the opinion of the employee and not the employer.

6.  Employees should be advised that they should not use the company logo, seal, trademark, or other symbol without written consent of the administrator.

7.  The policy might prohibit the posting of pictures of employees in uniform or on duty.

8.  The policy should also address the protection of confidential and company information and information about customers or clients.

9.  Finally, all employees should be required to sign a written acknowledgment that they have received, have read, understand, and agree to comply with the social media policy.


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