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

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 policy.

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 investigation.

social-media-policy

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 tab.


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 one)
* 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 today 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.

Check your inbox for an email confirming your subscription. Enjoy!

More to Discover

Case Study: Rochester University

Case Study: Rochester University

Michigan based Rochester University relied on their own payroll processing for nearly 60 years. But when their payroll administrator decided to retire, they turned to Paycor to help them save time and resources. “In the three years we’ve been a Paycor customer, I’ve never had a problem reaching my dedicated support team. I always get a call back and most of the time it’s on the same day. If I have an emergency, I know I can trust Paycor.” – Ginny May, Director of HR With Paycor, Rochester University has significantly transformed how they manage HR and process payroll with Paycor Time, Paycor’s Mobile App and ACA filing. By eliminating manual work, their staff has more time to focus on strategic initiatives like finding the right faculty...

4 Common Payroll Mistakes and How to Fix Them

4 Common Payroll Mistakes and How to Fix Them

Overtime Pay, Pay Equity, Workers’ Comp, Payroll Taxes Topics Covered Missclassifying Employees Pay Equity Workers' Comp Payroll Taxes Dump Your Payroll Provider Payroll Compliance: More Complex Than You Think From FLSA, EPA, Workers Comp and more, there are lots of federal laws to keep track of, and state and local taxes only add complexity. That’s why HR and business leaders need to have processes in place to consistently apply pay policies, accurately calculate overtime and streamline leave policies. If you don’t and your company is audited or sued, you won’t have the proper controls in place to quickly provide accurate records and audit trails. Here are four common Payroll mistakes you might be making: Misclassifying Freelancers and...

Webinar: How Paycor Can Take Blackbaud's Payroll 7 Clients To The Next Level - 12/11/2019 @2pm ET

Webinar: How Paycor Can Take Blackbaud's Payroll 7 Clients To The Next Level - 12/11/2019 @2pm ET

Blackbaud’s Payroll clients have been asking for a more robust payroll offering and we’re excited to announce a new partnership between Blackbaud and Paycor.An industry-leading HR and payroll provider with nearly 30 years of experience serving small to medium-sized businesses, Paycor will not only deliver more robust payroll functionality, but also a suite of products and services to help Blackbaud clients better serve their mission.Join us on December 11th as Paycor Senior Vice President, Rick Chouteau, and Blackbaud Partner Development Leader, Craig Suppin, showcase why Paycor can be chosen to replace the Payroll 7 module, helping your organization improve operational efficiencies while reducing risk.In this webinar, we’ll share: • A...

DOL Final Overtime Rules: Quickstart Guide for Employers

DOL Final Overtime Rules: Quickstart Guide for Employers

On September 24, 2019, the Department of Labor issued its final overtime rule to increase the minimum salary threshold for executive, administrative and professional exemptions from $455 per week ($23,660 annually) to $684 per week ($35,568 annually). The new rule goes into effect January 1, 2020.As your organization considers how to prepare and comply, we’ve created this guide which outlines the new ruling, provides tips to manage impacted employees and offers a checklist of key details to follow to mitigate risk. Click below to instantly download the guide.