Why Businesses Need to Have a Social Media Policy

23 MAR 2018


The purpose of this article is to alert you to the Employment Law services that we provide and which we have recently expanded because of the importance in this area of the law.

Whilst we have been involved in many Employment Law related drafting, issues and disputes for businesses of all sizes over the last 20+ years, given what we see as a probable increase in activity in this area we have added to our personnel so as to be equipped to assist you as and when needed be it a dispute or front end drafting.

Simon Kumar who practices out of our Campbelltown office has vast practical experience in dealing with a wide range of matters for employers, including in the areas of:

  1. drafting employment contracts and policy documents;
  2. assisting in workplace investigations;
  3. defending unfair dismissal claims;
  4. defending underpayment claims; and
  5. advising on workplace entitlements and all employee issues.

Whether you require initial preliminary advice in relation to your employees’ entitlements or at some point you may be in a dispute with an employee, please contact Grant Butterfield or Simon Kumar so we can assist in stepping you through this often complex and convoluted area of the law.

Below is our first update.

Social Media Policy

In this modern day and age, many businesses respect the right of its employees, as private citizens, to engage in public debate on political and social issues, whether on the radio, the internet, in newspapers or on television. This extends to their employees’ use of social media. Social media enables individuals to communicate via the internet, sharing information and resources. Social media sites, such as Facebook, are a social utility that connect people with family, colleagues and friends.

At the same time, many businesses expect their employees to fulfil their obligations as employees, and to uphold an expected level of professional conduct and ethical behaviour when using social media. It is critical that a business ensures that its employees exhibit a high standard of professional conduct, in order to maintain public confidence in the business’ operations and to reinforce the corporate values of the business. For instance, employees need to be reminded that content posted on such sites is as public as if it were published in a newspaper or discussed at a public forum, and has the potential to be broadcast across the entire internet.

In many circumstances, it becomes necessary to prohibit the use of social media during work hours, unless employees have appropriate authorisation for work-related use.

Accordingly, it becomes imperative for businesses to keep pace with the times by having a social media policy that covers, but is not limited to, the social media sites and services that currently exist and one that also covers other social media services as they develop in the future. It’s considered best practice to have a social media policy document adopted in a business.

The purpose of a social media policy should be to ensure that employees understand their obligations when using social media (such as Facebook) inside and outside of work hours. The policy should be created and implemented for the mutual protection of the business and its employees, and should not be intended to prevent, discourage or unduly limit an employees' expression of personal opinion or online activities. The policy should ensure that employees are informed of the importance of managing the risks associated with use of social media that may:

  1. impact the reputation of the business;
  2. impact the safety of other employees of the business; and
  3. result in a breach of the business’ policies, procedures or instructions.

A good policy should provide a definition of social media, and a process for employees who may have a complaint. It should also provide for sanctions in the event an employee is found to have breached the policy.

To discuss how we can assist your business to draft a compliant social media policy document, please contact Grant Butterfield on gbutterfield@marsdens.net.au or Simon Kumar on skumar@marsdens.net.au or call on (02) 4626 5077.

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

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