social media policy

Investigation Report Key Statistics: Edition 3

iHR Australia investigators have compiled a collection of statistics to track trends in the workplace.

Our July statistic provides a cautionary insight into the power of social media, providing a necessary reminder that the use of social media should be respected and not abused.

iHR Australia Senior Workplace Relations Adviser, Costa Brehas, answered some of our questions around the use of social media in the workplace.

Can organisations ‘protect’ their employees around the use of social media? 

Yes, absolutely. It is common knowledge that social media can be abused by individuals to bully or harass employees or to bring an employer into disrepute. Although this may seem to relate to conduct outside of the working environment, where that conduct has a connection with the employment relationship an employer may take disciplinary action against the persons who have conducted themselves inappropriately on social media.

Are messaging platforms (for example Slack, What’s App etc.) generally covered in an organisation’s social media policy? 

They should be. In my experience most responsible employers have social media policies which address appropriate conduct on social media platforms. They also provide clear explanations about what employees should or should not be doing on social media when there is some connection between their conduct and their employment.

What key elements should be included in a social media policy?

  1. Firstly, a clear explanation that even though communications on social media may occur outside of working hours, where that conduct has a connection with their employment, those communications will enable the employer to take action to address inappropriate communications about workers, the employer’s clients/customers and the employer’s business.
  2.  Secondly, the policy should provide information about what type of communications on social media are inappropriate. These usually relate to bullying, harassment and discrimination but also extend to any communications which may bring the employer into disrepute and breaches of confidential or sensitive information.
  3. Finally, the policy should make it clear that inappropriate communications on social media may expose not only the employer, but the employee, to claims in their personal capacity and that the employer may take disciplinary action for breaches of the policy which may include termination of employment.


Does the increase in staff working from home mean social policies need to be adjusted? 

This depends on how extensive existing policies are. Employers should review their current policies and consider whether there are areas which may need to be updated. Particularly given that employees who work from home may have difficulties drawing a distinction between their work and personal lives.

Employers can take measures to protect employees (and the interests of their businesses) by providing education and training to their employees.

Contact us today if you need assistance with your organisation’s social media policy.

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Workplace Investigations | eLearning: Responsible use of Social Media | Previous edition: Should organisations ban alcohol from functions?

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