What’s your policy on social media conduct?

Like it or not, we’re living in the age of social media, where the lines between “personal” and “professional”, “private” and “public” have become blurred. A person’s right to freedom of expression may be perceived as inappropriate conduct by their employer or coworker. This can be harmful to a brand, reputation and business relationship, and people can lose their jobs.

This year alone, the media has reported several cases of employees being dismissed or forced to resign because of comments or images they posted on their personal social media accounts. Employees typically risk getting into trouble when they

  • post offensive, inappropriate or defamatory comments

  • post controversial or extreme opinions or images

  • tell work they are sick then post photos of their big night out

Does your workplace have a social media policy?

Employers who take a strict stance on social media conduct may find themselves facing a legal dispute if they don’t have the proper policies and contractual clauses in place.

By now, every employer should have an up-to-date social media policy. Review your social media policy regularly, to make sure it stays relevant to today’s online culture, which is perpetually and rapidly evolving.

“Employers can be held legally responsible for acts of discrimination or harassment that occur in the workplace or in connection with a person’s employment. This can include posts and comments made or circulated on social media. To minimise their liability, employers need to demonstrate that they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination or harassment from occurring in their workplaces.” ~ Australian Human Rights Commission

Employers can manage the risk of workplace disputes and claims of harassment or discrimination by educating their staff on appropriate conduct on social media. This should include training sessions and discussions around workplace health and safety, respect and responsibility, organisational values, brand and reputation, and the employee/employer relationship.

How do you know whether or not a serious breach has occurred?

Read How to spot bullying in your workplace >

If you receive a verbal or written workplace grievance, complaint or allegation regarding an employee’s social media conduct, you are obliged to investigate the issue to find out what happened and determine whether a breach has occurred.

Whether the investigation is conducted internally or externally, it must adhere to natural justice principles, confidentiality, rules of evidence, legal and policy compliance, and health and safety regulations. These standards help to ensure a fair and equitable process for all and allow your organisation to respond with the appropriate action.

WorkPlacePLUS has a team of experienced certified private investigators who provide independent workplace investigations of the highest standard. We assist in mitigating an employer’s obligations under various legislation such as Fair Work Act and Workplace, Health & Safety, while you continue to focus on business as usual. We value continuous improvement, so we also provide follow-up support to implement recommendations and restore harmony and productivity.

Read Respect and responsibility in the workplace >

For more information, please contact us today.

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