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

2019 Compliance Changes

2019 Compliance Changes

It’s critical that you’re aware of all the tax changes that could affect your organization in 2019. This session will include frequently asked questions, an overview of federal and state withholding updates and trends we are seeing in areas of Tax and ACA compliance. Speakers: Arlene Baker and James Schwantes Arlene Baker is a Senior Compliance Analyst with over 40 years of payroll and tax experience. She’s a member of the National Payroll Reporting Consortium focusing on IRS compliance, and she’s been a member of the national and local APA for 25 years. In 2003, Arlene was awarded the Ohio Payroll Professional of the Year award. James Schwantes is a Compliance Analyst with a legal and tax background. Prior to working at Paycor in the...

Proposed Department of Labor Rule to Update Regular Rate Requirements

Proposed Department of Labor Rule to Update Regular Rate Requirements

In late March, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced a proposed rule to clarify and update the regulations governing the regular rate requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Unless exempt, an employee’s regular rate of pay is used to determine how much he or she should be paid for working overtime. The FLSA generally requires overtime pay of at least 1.5 times the regular rate for hours worked past 40 hours per week. The proposed rule details what forms of payment employers can exclude when determining an employee’s regular rate of pay. The cost of the following items would no longer apply: Tuition programs Discretionary bonuses Payment for unused paid leave Wellness programs, fitness classes, gym access, onsite...

FLSA Law Update

FLSA Law Update

What new cases and issues are arising regarding FLSA? We’ll discuss the change from a narrow interpretation to a fair interpretation of exemptions by the U.S. Supreme Court and what other courts and the DOL think of it. We’ll also discuss the recently reintroduced opinion letters and the possible increase in the salary level threshold. Speaker: Brian Dershaw BRIAN G. DERSHAW is a partner in Taft Stettinius & Hollister’s Labor & Employment practice group. Brian has broad experience serving as counsel for companies of all sizes. He has appeared in state and federal trial and appellate courts in discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wrongful discharge, non-compete, trade secret and contract litigation. Brian works closely with...

Understanding FMLA Regulations

Understanding FMLA Regulations

What is the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA?) The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is a federal law that allows eligible employees to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave in any given 12-month period for certain medical and family reasons without fear of losing their job. Signed into law in 1993, the FMLA is designed to help employees balance their work and family responsibilities while promoting equal employment opportunity for men and women. Who is Eligible for FMLA? An employee is eligible for FMLA leave if he or she has worked for a covered employer at least 12 months, completed at least 1,250 hours of work during the past 12 months and worked at a location within 75 miles of where the company employs 50 or more people. Keep in...