Wk 6 – What is? Social Media Policy

Hi everyone, I’m Peta Cussell from Project Ops and this is week 6 of our 10-week series discussing key areas of Human Resources relevant to Small Business. This week I am going to talk about the importance of a Social Media Policy in the workplace.

The Social Media Policy is designed as a guideline intended to provide clarity to employees and contractors on acceptable use of social media platforms when referring to the employer; the employer’s products and services; its people; clients; competitors; and entities associated with the employer.

The Policy applies regardless of whether the devices are owned or controlled by the employer and regardless of whether the activity is conducted ‘at work’ or not.

“Gone is the time (if it ever existed) where an employee might claim posts on social media are intended to be for private consumption only…it is difficult to see how a social media policy designed to protect an employer’s reputation and security of the business could operate in an ‘at work’ context only”. - Fair Work Commission (now Fair Work Australia)

The Social Media Policy is designed:

  • to protect the reputation and the security of the business
  • to communicate unacceptable behaviour
  • to prevent issues from arising, and
  • it helps defend an unfair dismissal claim

However, if termination is to occur correct procedures must be followed.

Legal Issues

The use of social networking sites in the workplace continues to present legal issues. In particular, there has been an increase in cases concerning termination of employment where there is a blurred distinction between work and ‘private’ activities.

Fair Work has strongly stated that negative actions of an employee on social media, do warrant dismissal. As soon as something goes on the public domain, and it relates to the Company in anyway, then it becomes work-related.

However, one case that Fair Work did dismiss, involved an older person who claimed unfair dismissal. This person was fired for placing derogatory remarks about the employer on social media. Although Fair Work agreed with this reason for termination, this person was found ignorant and hence was unaware of the public profile aspect of Facebook and thought comments made were private. The Company didn’t have a Social Media Policy in place, which meant there was blur between what is private and what is work-related and therefore there was a flaw in the Company’s argument and so that person was reinstated. 

The importance of a Social Media Policy

Having a Social Media Policy protects the reputation and the security of the business, it communicates to employees’ unacceptable behaviour and subsequent consequences for any breaches. It will also assist the employer in defending a claim for unfair dismissal if the employee is dismissed for (say) using derogatory remarks about the employer on social media.

How Project Ops can help?

Australia’s employment landscape can be confusing and imposing for small business. Its full of complex policies and changing legalities, is hard to understand and even harder to keep up-to-date with. That’s where Project Ops comes in. We have many years of experience and really understand small business. With Project Ops, we make HR simple!

If your business is yet to establish HR Policies and Procedures and you don’t know where to start or you need advice on a particular staffing issues, please get in touch!

 

Project Ops are one of Australia’s leading outsourcing specialists, providing some of Australia’s best talent to businesses of all sizes for one-off projects, short or long-term contracts. Specialising in Human Resources (HR), Recruitment, Business Operations, Change Management, Project Management and Event Management.