As the use of social media grows, concerns about your employees’ use of social media in the workplace may as well. For example:

  • An employee may be logging on to social media sites frequently during the workday, depriving your company of productive working time.
  • Employees on social media might make negative comments about your company, a supervisor, or co-workers.
  • An employee could divulge sensitive information, such as the company’s financial performance on social media.

To combat the potential impact on your business, it’s wise to create a social media policy if you haven’t already. But be sure you tread carefully since it’s a fine line between governing the use of social media and unlawfully interfering with employees’ rights under federal and state law.

When you draft your policy, here are four things to keep in mind to stay in compliance:

  1. Beware Section 7: Don’t draft overly broad language that prohibits activities that are protected under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, which protects certain “concerted activity” by employees such as talking about wages or the conditions of their employment. On the other hand, posts that disclose an employer’s trade secrets, contain disparaging speech about coworkers, and a host of others are not protected. To be clear, use examples.
  2. Control the Message: Identify those individuals who have the authority to represent the company on social media and prohibit others from doing so. To protect employers’ interests in this area, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) allows companies to require that employees seek prior authorization before speaking on behalf of the company. You can also instruct employees to include a notice when posting that the views expressed are the individual’s and not the employer’s.
  3. Skip the Passwords: While some employers want access to employees’ social media accounts to protect their data or brand, many states have laws in effect that prohibit employers from requesting social media logins and passwords or for taking action for failing to disclose passwords. So make sure to check local legislation before requiring employees to provide them.
  4. Don’t Rely on Disclaimers. According to the NLRB, general disclaimer language that states the policy doesn’t restrict employees’ rights and activities under the NLRB doesn’t cure otherwise unlawful provisions that the social media policy contains. That’s because employees may not understand from the disclaimer that protected activities are, in fact, permitted.

Best practices for dealing with social media in the workplace are continually evolving. For more information about updating your policies to boost compliance and productivity, watch our video. Or contact Complete Payroll Solutions at 888-865-4470.

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