Skip to content

The Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media Policy

Chances are most of your employees are on social media like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. Some of them

may be using their private accounts to say things about their

employment. Frustrated employees might even be complaining about their

working conditions – or about you.

While it may seem prudent to ban employees from saying anything negative

about your organization online – or perhaps even discussing work at all

– the National Labor Relations Board, which interprets the National

Labor Relations Act, has ruled that this kind of restriction is illegal.

That said, employers can still encourage employees to think before they

speak (or type), and remind them that behavior akin to unlawful

harassment of their co-workers may still lead to discipline.

Also be aware that 23 states have already implemented social media

privacy laws for employees, so you’ll want to ensure you’re not

overstepping any legal requirements when drafting your social media


Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts to keep in mind when creating a company social media policy:

DO… Maintain control over company social media accounts. As the

employer, you own them and have a right to access them. You should

always have the current credentials to access company social media, even

if you assign an employee or outside party to oversee the accounts.

DO… Respect the privacy of employees. Even publicly-viewable social

media accounts are part of the personal lives of your employees.

Monitoring the personal conversations of your employees indicates you

don’t trust them. Employees who believe their employer doesn’t trust

them will be less engaged and committed.

DO… Encourage employees to be respectful and to avoid statements

that could be interpreted as threatening, harassing, or defaming. You

can tell them not to present their opinions as those of the company and

to refrain from sharing confidential company information on social

media. Put employees on notice that you may request to see their social

media activity if it’s relevant to an investigation of misconduct. State

laws generally say you may request access to an employee’s personal

social media only if you’re conducting an investigation into that

employee’s alleged misconduct and you have a reasonable belief that the

employee’s personal social media activity is relevant to the



And now for the Don’ts:

DON’T… Examine the social media accounts of applicants or employees.

If you were to learn information about a protected class or protected

activity, and then made an adverse decision regarding the employee or

applicant, you could open yourself up to claims of retaliation or

discrimination. Generally, it’s best that employers and supervisors not

be online “friends” or “followers” of their employees.

DON’T… Restrict concerted activity. According to the National Labor

Relations Board (NLRB), employer social media policies should not be so

sweeping that they prohibit (or would seem to discourage) the kinds of

activity protected by federal labor law, such as the discussion of wages

or working conditions among employees.

DON’T… Ignore the laws. While state laws differ, they share some

general themes. First, the laws prohibit employers from requiring or

requesting that employees or applicants disclose their login credentials

(usernames or passwords). Second, the laws say you can’t require or

request that an employee or applicant access their personal social media

in your presence or add you to their contacts or friends list. If an

account is private, you shouldn’t try to gain access to it. Third, the

law prohibits retaliation on your part. For example, if you were to

discipline an employee for refusing to show you what’s on their social

media timeline, or not hire an applicant who refused to do the same,

you’d be in violation of the law.

In conclusion, if you have employees working in any of the states with

social media privacy laws, it’s a good idea to examine the specific laws

to make sure you’re not in violation. But even if your state has no

social media privacy law, we recommend using a social media policy that

encompasses the advice above. You can find a ready-to-use social media

policy in the HR Support Center in the Policy Library, under the Tools


This content came from a team of HR professionals at HR Support Center.

Businesses like yours can pay a yearly fee for HR Support Center and

receive awesome subscription perks like these:

* Legal advice

* Employee handbook help (creating a new one or updating an existing


* Custom HR forms, letters, tools, and other documents

* Tons of Q&A

* News on government activity that could affect you

* Training on common HR activities like hiring

* Thought leadership articles

The list goes on. HR Support Center is not only feature rich, it’s

inexpensive: one entire year of HR Support

Center is

cheaper than one hour of a typical attorney’s time. Contact us


to sign up.

Subscribe to Our Resource Center Digest

Enter your email below to receive a weekly recap of the latest articles

from Paycor’s Resource Center.

MktoForms2.loadForm("//", "003-JWW-697", 1796);

Check your inbox

for an email confirming your subscription. Enjoy!