SOCIAL MEDIA CAN WORK FOR YOU (but don’t let it put you out of work!)

All the rules and regulations governing us today can make us groan at the thought of yet another Policy! Yet without a Social Media Policy in place, you’re likely to find yourself in a difficult place to take action when an employee posts something harmful to your Practice.

Social media is an everyday communication tool that knows no boundaries. If you don’t set any boundaries in the workplace between employer, employees, patients and the general public, you’re putting yourself at risk of losing control of your practice. Minimising the potential risks of social media is vital to your business!

The pros and cons of advertising

The world has changed and we must change with it. Social media is the modern form of advertising and can be hugely beneficial, connecting the practice to potential patients and the general public. It’s fast and fabulous when it’s working for us, but knows no bounds when an embittered employee decides to ‘vent’ their frustrations, regardless of the highest privacy settings you may have initiated. You’re in the public domain now and at risk of loss of reputation, workplace environment – and business at large.

A Case in point

Employee Glen Stutsel took employer Linfox Australia Pty Ltd to the Fair Work Commission in 2011. He had made a public post on his personal Facebook account with offensive comments about other Linfox employees. When made aware of these comments, Linfox investigated and decided the conduct of Stutsel amounted to racial and sexual discrimination; he was terminated for serious misconduct. Stutsel made a claim to Fair Work for unfair dismissal.

The Fair Work Commission viewed the employee’s actions on social media as inappropriate but decided in favour of him anyway. The termination was declared unfair, specifically because Stutsel had limited knowledge of how to use social media, but largely because the employer did not have a Social Media Policy. The absence of such a policy in an era where social media plays a large role in our lives was viewed as a ‘serious oversight.’

In order to avoid such a devastating court case, employers need a Social Media Policy to not only provide guidance about what can or cannot be posted by employees, but also to provide the employer with the confidence to take action against an employee in the event of material placed on social media that is damaging to the reputation and workplace of the business.

Considerations for Employers

  • All staff should be supplied with a Social Media Policy, and taught how to follow the Policy. They should also be versed in privacy settings to limit the reach of social media posts.
  • Because of the rapid development of social media technology and platforms, the Policy should be updated regularly. The law as it relates to employment and social media use is developing quickly and employers should attempt to remain aware of major changes to the law as they occur.
  • Maintaining an open workplace environment is essential. If an employee has a disagreement with other staff members, this should be discussed in the workplace and not on social media.

For further information or advice, contact us at [email protected] or visit l’s Social Media Policy.

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