Proskauer , a large global law firm, has once again conducted a worldwide survey called “Social Media in the Workplace around the World 2.0″, that addresses the employment of social media within the work place.
Last year Proskauer surveyed transnational businesses in nineteen different countries including Canada, the USA, Italy, Spain, and France to produce a worldwide perspective of workplace use of social media. This survey not only shed light on notable developments in the use of social media among workplaces, but also helped verify and determine consistent traits.
Despite legal and cultural variations, the survey disclosed a surprising degree of commonality across jurisdictions on best practices utilized by employers with reference to social media within the workplace.
The five overarching ‘best practices’ for employers follow.
1: Enforce a Social Media Policy
Have a dedicated and well-communicated policy on social media use that clearly sets out acceptable and unacceptable usage, each within and out of the workplace, as well as when employment ends. The policy should be enforced in accordance with and comply with local requirements, particularly privacy laws. As well as the many advantages of having clear rules on what employees can and cannot do, without such policies, it can be terribly difficult to lawfully sanction employees for misuse of social media.
2: Implement Observance; be respectful and mindful of local requirements
If employers choose to monitor social media usage by staff at work (and our survey shows that several employers do), have clear, categorical and well-communicated policies concerning the extent and nature of the monitoring. Ensure they comply with and are enforced in accordance with local requirements (again, particularly privacy laws).
3: Implement a proportionate Observance system
Any observing should go no further than is necessary to protect the employer’s business interests and should be conducted solely by designated staff who are adequately trained to understand the limits on what watching is permissible and comply with local privacy requirements, as well as in respect of the safe storage, confidentiality of and onward transfer of personal data.
4: Use caution when using info from Social Media: Recruiting/Discipline employees
Exercise extreme caution before relying upon information on social media sites to make employment-related decisions, such as decisions concerning recruitment and discipline. In addition to the danger of such information being inaccurate, relying upon such information creates the risk of unlawful discrimination, breaching data privacy requirements and infringing individuals’ rights to privacy. If businesses nonetheless wish to rely on such information, have clear processes and policies in place to mitigate such risks.
5: Protect Confidential Information
Based on recent cases from around the world, an emerging issue is misuse of confidential information by employees via social media. As well as addressing this issue through social media policies, it would be best practice to amend provisions addressing misuse of confidential information to explicitly cover misuse via social media.
As social media becomes more prevalent in the workplace, it is increasingly necessary to ponder its global implications, notably for transnational corporations.
Research Sources: Mondaq.com, Proskauer – “Social Media in the Workplace around the World 2.0″