Avoid a Complicated Social Media Policy For Your Employee Handbook

Introduction

Rayan F. Coutinho, Ph.D.There are some advantages to the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace by employees. However, such use has also created a significant number of legal problems for employers. In addition to a decrease in employee productivity, there is a potential for legal liability from several sources, including breach of privacy, defamation, harassment, discrimination, copyright infringement and disclosure of confidential or privileged information. This concern has led to the incorporation of complicated and detailed social media policies into employee handbooks. Such policies create detailed descriptions for each technology on what an employee can or cannot do or say. Is there an alternative approach? We have been recommending to our clients a different concept – an approach where employees are treated as adults and are guided by basic concepts which could govern use of all technology, i.e. phone, internet, SMS, blogs and social media. Keeping it simple provides the employer with flexibility in dealing with undesirable situations. Examples of these concepts provided in this article can be tailored to your community’s needs.

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