In light of the new social media guidance the BBC imposed on its own employees, employers should be carefully considering whether or not their own social media policy sufficiently protects their interests.
Last week the BBC issued guidelines urging employees not to “express a personal opinion on matters of public policy, politics or controversial topics”. The impact social media use may have on its reputation and impartiality are at the heart of the BBC’s argument for such stringent guidelines.
Recognising that social media plays an increasingly dominant effect on our lives, employers may look to follow the BBC’s example, even if not directly involved in the media industry themselves. Social media is no longer a reticent, outside-of-work pastime or exclusively lunch-break fodder. For a huge majority, it now encompasses modern journalism practices, defines social status and provides a platform to vent opinions whether negative or positive (largely without consequence).
Its ever-increasing importance therefore should not be underestimated by employers, especially with regards to reputation protection and an awareness of social media’s impact on productivity. With instant access at all times, the boundaries between personal and professional lives can be blurred when it comes to social media output and use during working hours. Furthermore, with modern work-practices now geared towards home/remote working, an employer’s ability to monitor usage has withered considerably.
A robust, current and accessible policy should be an employer’s first line of defence. At a minimum the policy should state:
Our employment team can assist you in drafting an effective policy and by helping you deal with staff who cause reputational damage to your business and/or commit acts of unlawful discrimination through their social media posts.