Beware the pitfalls of social networking

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1. Ensure you have a policy outlining acceptable usage of social media; limiting the use of these sites in the workplace; and making clear to employees the restrictions on the use of the employer’s name and business.

2. Make sure the company’s social media policy also cross-refers to other policies such as the Disciplinary, Equal Opportunity and IT policies.

3. Employees should be prohibited from sharing sensitive corporate information on the internet.

4. While for larger businesses social media usage is likely to already be part of the induction programme, smaller enterprises also need to ensure it is incorporated within staff training.

5. Establish a privacy policy to ensure compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998 which extends to cover data collected via the company’s own site and via social media sites.

6. Make clear to employees how data on social networking sites, including employee’s contacts, suppliers and clients (including LinkedIn) will be treated on termination of their employment and, in appropriate cases, implement restrictive covenants.

7. Any blogs referring to the company should identify that the writer is an employee and that the views expressed are the writer’s alone and do not represent those of the company.

8. Do not ignore the online conduct of your employees because it occurs outside the workplace if it impacts the business.

9. Use disciplinary action if the behaviour of an employee is inappropriate and are made public on the internet.

10. Treat online bullying and/or harassment in the same way as workplace bullying and in accordance with your equal opportunity policy in the case of any discriminatory acts.