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Social Media at Work….what to consider when setting policy
It seems now everyone is “facebooking” from your child to your grandmother. If a company does not have a social media policy then the company can expect trouble. With sites like Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter companies are in dire need of adding policies to decide when and who may access the sites on work time. All sorts of organizations use social sites as a marketing tool so it poses a dilemma to determine when and which employees to allow access to the sites on work time. The cloudiest of issues dealing with social media sites is to what extent companies may influence what employees post on the site in their free time.
Technology moves so quickly, and laws are slow to follow. There are recent developments indicating that employers are limited in to what they can discipline employees for while posting on social media sites even if it goes against the employer’s policy. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has made decisions and settlements regarding social media recently.
Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives private sector employees the right to discuss the terms and conditions of employment with others including coworkers whether the company is unionized or not. The National Labor Relations Board says this includes social media sites. According to the NLRB, it is possible for a company to interfere with employees’ Section 7 rights by having a blanket prohibition policy on making remarks against the company and/or its management on social media sites. More than likely if employees post comments about unpaid wages or complain about overtime, their postings are probably protected under the NLRA.
In February 2011, the NLRB settled with an emergency service company in Connecticut for terminating an employee for her negative Facebook posts about her supervisor. The employee posted the remarks on Facebook while at home and off the clock. The company claims that the employee was fired for her work. The company’s policy on social media barred employees from posting disparaging remarks against the company and/or management, or depicting the company on the internet without permission. NLRB issued and unfair labor practice complaint against the company stating that she was terminated for a protected activity, and the NLRB stated that the company’s social media policy was too broad and it violated employee’s Section 7 rights. In regards to the settlement the company revised the social media policy to "to ensure that [it does] not improperly restrict employees from discussing their wages, hours and working conditions with co-workers and others while not at work." The employer then agreed not to discipline or discharge employees for such discussions or asking for union representation.
The Business Revelation can help small businesses update their company policies and employee handbooks to address many issues. We are a full service Human Resource Management Outsourcing and Consulting Company. We can be contacted at email@example.com or call 501-278-5122.