Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter–chances are, your employees are using one or more of these websites on a regular basis and, like many employers, you may be concerned about the potential effects on your business. But just how far can your company’s social media policy reach?
Guidance from the NLRB
A new report issued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) provides some insight for employers on how to create policies governing the use of social media that do not unlawfully interfere with employees’ rights under federal law to engage in certain protected activities, such as the right to discuss wages and working conditions with co-workers.
Social Media Policy Considerations
Keep in mind the following considerations raised by the NLRB report when creating your company’s social media policy:
- Avoid overbroad language. Workplace rules that are ambiguous and contain no language clarifying that the rules do not restrict employees’ rights to discuss information regarding the conditions of their employment are consistently held to be unlawful.
- Provide concrete examples of the type of conduct you wish to prohibit. Rules that clarify and restrict their scope by including examples of clearly illegal or unprotected conduct (such as discrimination or threats of violence) are more likely to be lawful.
- Don’t require employees to get permission from the company before they post comments regarding terms and conditions of their employment. The NLRB has long held that any rule that requires employees to secure permission from an employer as a precondition to engaging in protected activities violates the law.
The NLRB report includes a lawful employer policy on social media which provides examples of prohibited employee conduct, a restriction on using social media during the workday, and a rule requiring employees to maintain the confidentiality of the employer’s private information.
As with all workplace policies, it is a good idea to review your policy with an attorney who is knowledgeable in this area of the law and your state’s laws.