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Social media policy – if you don’t have one, get one!

social media policy


A story about the Ontario man fired from a retail store due to insensitive online postings about the death of Amanda Todd received mixed reactions from the public and legal experts, but it is not the first time we’ve seen a story like this.

More and more often, we are seeing companies run into trouble when it comes to their employees using social media. Now, more than ever, companies need to include a social media policy in their employee policy manual. With future employees being a generation that grew up online, specific rules and guidelines must be set out so companies can avoid stories like the one above.

Where do I begin?

Social Media Today posted a list of 100 companies and their social media policies that they have implemented. This is a place to start and get ideas on what needs to go into your policy.

You can also take a free trial of Human Resources PolicyPro, Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba & Saskatchewan, Ontario and Atlantic Editions published by First Reference Inc. that contains over 70 continuously updated, expertly-crafted, and ready-to-use policies and procedures. A social media policy can be found in the Employee Relations Policies chapter, E5.14-1.

Something to think about

A big issue is the tradeoff that employers expect employees to make. If they want their employees to be available 24/7 and are giving them BlackBerry’s and PC’s to contact them outside of business hours, it is inevitable that people are going to use those devices on their personal time as well as business time. That’s an inevitable consequence of asking people to be on call beyond eight hours a day” Frank Addairo, Mitchell LLP

What should employers do?

  • —Consider what is inappropriate use of company provided devices?
  • —Have clear, written policies that your employees sign off on
  • —Update your policies to reflect many recent changes in technology
  • —Make sure employment contracts and policy manuals reference ability to monitor email and Internet use
  • —Have policies and procedures to conduct random audits of company provided equipment and investigate allegations of misconduct

Basic rule of thumb:

An employer has no authority over what employees do once they’re off the clock, unless the employer can show its legitimate business interests are affected.

Clear Path Employer Services

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Clear Path Employer Services

Certified HR consultants and medical professionals at Clear Path Employer Services
Clear Path Employer Services is a team of certified HR consultants and medical professionals dedicated to resolving the human resources and claims management challenges facing businesses across Ontario. The company was founded in 2003 by Anna Aceto-Guerin, a Certified Human Resources Professional (CHRP) specializing in WSIB claims management and NEER cost containment, with a focus on return-to-work programs and acquiring SIEF cost relief for employers. Read more
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