Addressing Personal Use of Social Media in the Workplace

There is no longer a clear divide between an employee’s work and private life.

Are your employees aware that their employer may:

  • Monitor personal activity on any piece of technology which accesses work systems or is directly provided by the business?
  • Evoke a formal disciplinary process if the employee attends to personal matters (i.e. engaging in private matters) when they are being paid to work?

Employee’s Right to Privacy

In mid January 2016, the European Court of Human Rights held there was no violation of an employee’s right to privacy when an employer read the employee’s personal instant messages posted on technology provided by the business (and using Yahoo Messenger – a service that was set up for business purposes to contact clients).

An employer is entitled to monitor work performance. This can be achieved via a number of modes including monitoring all activity that uses work systems and work provided equipment.

Company policy – Social Media

It is best practice to ensure company policy explains and endorses such monitoring of work performance as well as stating that work systems and work resources/equipment must only be used for work purposes.

If you do wish to recognise and address the current trend of employees accessing social media while at work, you should place some boundaries around such practices by including wording in your company policy such as: this type of activity can only occur during assigned breaks; or the activity will only be approved if the employee’s volume of work and standard of work is not adversely effected.

If you need support to update your social media policy or to implement a disciplinary performance management process contact us.

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About the Author

Catherine Gillespie brings a wealth of skill to her clients. With particular expertise in teaching communication and workplace conflict resolution skills, Catherine has made a marked difference to the organisations she has worked with. She empowers teams and managers to adopt constructive styles that support harmony, productivity and progress in the workplace.