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This document can be used to create a Social Media Policy by an employer to protect its business from the negative effects of social media arising from use by its employees. An employer's Social Media Policy can be incorporated as part of the employer's staff handbook, part of the employer's IT and communications system policy or as a standalone policy document. If the employer has other policy documents that work in conjunction with this Social Media Policy, or that operate as standalone policies (for example, equal opportunities policy), the employees will be expected to follow each policy. This Social Media Policy outlines the rules and guidelines on how employees are expected to use social media, whether for personal use or when acting on behalf of the employer.
This social media policy has been created from the standpoint that it is not part of the employee's contract of employment. As such, the employer has the power to amend it at any time without needing the consent of the employee. There is also no need for employees to sign the policy.
This document also addresses employees' use of social media outside work hours. It also covers cases where employees access social media using equipment other than that of the employer. In such a situation, the employer should be mindful of taking disciplinary actions (using its disciplinary procedure) against an employee where this policy is breached outside of the employee's work hours, as the employer will need to show that the breach caused some real damager before such disciplinary action can be justified.
Additionally, this document has been created with knowledge of the potential risks that employees' misuse of social media may have on the employer's business. These risks include, but are not limited to, matters such as discrimination, infringement of third-party rights, unauthorised disclosure of confidential information etc.
This document has been tailored for use where the employer is in England and Wales and Scotland.
How to use this document
This document should be used by an employer that wishes to create a permanent Social Media Policy that all employees can refer to. The policy can either be given to employees at the time they start their employment, or at any time during their employment.
The document has been drafted with the option that the employer could be either a company or an individual employer. While most of the document has been drafted as a standard form template, the employer would have the opportunity at certain junctures to input or customise some information.
When filled out, the document can be printed out and given to the employees, or sent via email to the employees. Each time there is a new employee hired in the organisation, this Social Media Policy should be given to that new employee. Whenever the policy is amended, it should also be sent to the employees either as a printout or via email.
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