We used to talk about personal space when someone came too close to us and invaded our “personal space”.
But in 2013 we have a new problem and that is the invasion of our privacy in the social media space. A much more nebulous and hard to manage problem.
If someone got too close to me then firstly I knew it, secondly I could identify who it was and thirdly tell then to move away!
But it’s not so easy to do in social media. If someone posts a picture of me that I don’t want posted, then firstly I need to know that it has been posted (how am I supposed to find this out if they don’t tell me?). Then I need to know who posted it and how to contact them and thirdly I have to tell them to unpost it, but if they don’t want to then what can I do about it?
There are some protections courts are starting to make where the postings relate to a work colleague.
Equal Opportunity Laws have always placed extra responsibilities on employers about making sure their staff treat each other appropriately when at work or when there is a workplace connection.
What recent cases are now starting to say is that sometimes negative things posted (like a photo) or a comment about another staff member or the employer may come under these equal opportunity or bullying laws and so the employer also has some say over these sites.
It is still an unclear area because sometimes the courts have said the employer had the right to terminate an employee for what they posted and in other cases the courts have said the employer didn’t have the right to terminate. Confusing!
What is becoming clearer though are the steps an employer can take in relation to social media and it looks like this-
Have a clear social media policy that outlines what an employee can do on social media sites in relation to the marketing of the business and also what they can post of a personal nature in relation to work colleagues and their employer
Provide regular training to employees about their social media policy and how it applies to them, make the training compulsory and keep a record of their attendance.
If HR/employer hear of any alleged breaches of the social media policy investigate as soon as possible. Follow your grievance procedure and ensure you follow the principles of natural justice before handing down any discipline.
If you need assistance writing a social media policy and conducting training for your staff and ensuring the investigation follows natural justice then contact EEO Specialists for a complimentary initial appointment with a lawyer.