Why your company needs a social media policy

Cork, Ireland

Does your company have a social media policy? If not, you should think about implementing one. Stephanie Perkins, an employment attorney with Jackson Lewis, spoke with Standard Beagle all about social media policies. She explained why every company, small or large, needs to have one in place.

Perkins recommends that any company who has a presence on social media or has employees participating in social media should have a policy in place — and these days, that covers pretty much everyone.

What should companies consider when making a policy?

Perkins says there are a number of things to cover when creating a policy:

Confidential Information

“If you have confidential information, you need to make sure it cannot leak online. There is just no amount of callback you can do that can recover confidential information; so an internet policy or social media policy needs to address the fact that any confidentiality agreements, or Non-Disclosure Agreements also apply,” Perkins said.

“The policy needs to explain to the employee that confidential information stays confidential, but on the flip side, that their own information may not be confidential because they are waiving their privacy rights.”

Privacy expectations

“Another thing to make sure your policy clearly states is that there is no expectation of privacy for your employees. When your employees are using your company equipment to go online and to check facebook, they are giving away certain privacy rights and they need to be made aware of that. This needs to be in writing and the employees need to sign that,” she said.
“When you access your accounts on your company computer, it’s there for the company to see. So the expectation of privacy and the fact and there is no privacy needs to be there in the policy.”

A gray line

Perkins says an employee who uses their own equipment on company WiFi is a different matter.
“It’s not easy for a company to access your information. However, the internet policy can state that in this instance, the employer can still access your information.”
What are things an employer can not do?

Perkins says it’s important that employers understand what they cannot do.

“The NLRB section 7 rights (Protected Concerted Activity) extends to social media accounts. Employees are legally allowed to talk about the conditions of their jobs, their wages, and even openly criticize the company and their customers. The NLRB states that even disallowing this sort of talk from your employees and having it written in your policy is a direct violation of your employees rights,” she said.

The bottom line?

“Clear expectations that shows the employer the put in serious thought and goals for the policy. This way employees fully understand what they can and cannot say and what levels of privacy they are to maintain for your clients, and what level of privacy they are employees can expect,” Perkins said.