Social Media Policies: Because Loose Tweets Sink Fleets!
ABC Radio's Law Report (@LawReportRN) with Damien (@damien_carrick) Carrick this week was a fascinating examination of the implications of Social Media on the already delicate relationship between employer and employee. With expert guests from law firms Herbert Smith Freehills and Slater Gordon, the 25 minute show examines the legal and HR ramifications of four cases where employees had been terminated after alleged Social Media indiscretions. It is well worth listening to, but above all it strongly emphasises the need for employers to protect themselves with a Social Media Policy. (You can Listen to the Podcast of the show here)
- An employee of the Australian Department of Immigration who anonymously tweeted her criticism of government policy because she saw herself as "free as a private citizen in my own time" to do so. But lost an appeal against her dismissal, which she regarded as unfair, because the court ruled that her contract AND the Department's Social Media Policy made it very clear what was expected of her. While many issues about personal and public political views and freedoms of political expression; the existence of clear guidelines - in this case - protected the Department.
- There were two other cases to do with a LinFox employee who made offensive comments on his Facebook page but his termination was overruled; and conversely a Good Guys employee who lost his appeal against termination for a similarly offensive Facebook rant about a pay dispute.
- Finally there was a high profile case of an employee of a interior design firm who was dismissed for promoting his moonlighting consultancy to his employer's clients via LinkedIn, effectively exploiting his company's "Imprimatur" for his own profit.
"Employees don't know where the distinctions are. It needs to be clearly explained to employees where the boundaries are and what the expectations are."
- By way of example, The Victorian Department of Justice's Social Media Policy is designed to be best practice - as you would expect from a such a Legally responsible entity. the video at the top is quite inspired I think
- This is a Social Media Policy generator tool for production of quick and simple policies. I have used this, its a good start but it is only a start and I would urge an employer to have a lawyer run their eyes over any document before finalising it. Every firm will have circumstances specific to them that generic tools won't serve, but it is a start
- This is a very useful post on the various areas a Social Media Policy should cover including legal, HR, IT and Marketing
- Finally, this short two-minute video is a useful guides as to some areas you will want to cover