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The increased growth in social media has created challenges for some employers. Staff may need to use social media during the day as part of their job responsibilities as well as using private social media accounts away from the workplace.

How far can an employer go in monitoring and applying guidelines?

Top things to consider:

1. Different employers will have different approaches to the use of social media. It would be worth having some guidelines set out in a Social Media Policy so employees are aware of what is acceptable and not acceptable and the consequences of any breach.

2. Have you checked that your information is protected and secured?
Employees build up a list of contacts on LinkedIn and other social media sites while they are working for your business. It can be difficult to work out who ‘owns’ these contacts so a clause in the Employment Contract making it clear that when an employee leaves the contacts that gained during their employment belong to the employer.

3. Monitoring
Make sure you are clear to employees that you will monitor their data from time to time. Having an Internet, Email and Computer policy setting out the guidelines is very helpful, as well as being clear the consequence  of a breach. You should have a separate employee consent form so employees know they are being monitored.

4. Data Protection
With the General Data Protection Regulations it is good practice to have a separate employee consent regarding the use and processing of personal data of employees. You could add this to the monitoring consent form as Data Protection Consent should not be included in the employment contract.

5. Disciplinary Issues
There has been a growing body of case law in this area, where employees have acted in appropriately and affected the reputation of their employers by their use of social media including their private use. By having the right guidelines in place and explaining them to employees then it is easier to be able to deal with a problem if it does occur.  It is much better if people are clear about what is expected form them at the beginning.