Social media and instant messaging activities can include, but are not limited to:
- maintaining a profile page on sites such as Facebook or LinkedIn.
- writing or commenting on a blog, whether it is your own or that of another person.
- use of micro-blogging sites such as Twitter.
- taking part in discussions on web forums or message boards.
- use of online instant messaging applications such as Whatsapp.
- use of photo sharing apps such as Snapchat or Instagram.
- leaving product or service reviews on business websites or customer review websites.
- taking part in online polls.
The widespread availability of social media means it is important to understand how to use it effectively and sensibly, both in the workplace and in your own time.
This policy aims to ensure that our reputation is not adversely affected by the use of social media and instant messaging applications.
Proposals to use any social media or instant messaging applications as part of your role within the business must be approved by your line manager. Use of social media and instant messaging for personal reasons does not need to be approved by your line manager but this should not be done in work time. Bear in mind that even if you are using social media and instant messaging in a personal capacity, other users who are aware of your association with us might reasonably think that you speak on our behalf. You should bear in mind at all times any adverse impact your content might have on our reputation or relationships with colleagues, suppliers or clients.
The following terms should be adhered to at all times, including during periods of leave and outside normal working hours:
- You should not use your work email address to sign up for personal use of social media websites.
- You must ensure that any content you post online that relates to our organisation or your role within it (e.g. on a LinkedIn profile) is an accurate representation of our business and your role within it. We reserve the right to require you to amend any content posted online by you (whether on your personal profile or not) that we do not reasonably consider to be accurate or to positively represent our organisation online.
- You should ensure that your use of social media and instant messaging complies with the company’s disciplinary rules and any of the company’s policies that may be relevant. In particular you must not harass or bully other members of staff, and not discriminate against other members of staff or third parties.
- If you are involved in a public or private online forum with work colleagues, content posted on that medium is considered to be posted in the context of the workplace. You must therefore take care to treat work colleagues in social media and instant messaging with the same dignity and respect that would be expected in the workplace.
- You must ensure that your content, or links to other content, does not:
- interfere with your work commitments;
- contain libellous, defamatory, bullying or harassing content (this policy should be read in conjunction with the Anti-Bullying and Harassment Policy and the Equal Opportunities Policy);
- contain breaches of copyright and data protection;
- contain material of an illegal, sexual or offensive nature;
- include information that is confidential to our business;
- bring our business into disrepute;
- use us to endorse or promote any product, opinion or political cause.
You should have no expectation of privacy or confidentiality in anything you create or share on social media or instant messaging platforms. You should note that, even if a profile is set to “private”, it is not considered private by us as it can be viewed by your contacts. In addition, you should be aware that anyone accessing your posts and contributions can easily copy and forward them on to others, potentially accessing a far bigger audience than you had intended. Any adverse comments made in relation to us, your colleagues, or our clients or suppliers may lead to damage to the reputation of our business. In these circumstances, you may find yourself liable to disciplinary action.
Our Use of Computer Equipment Policy, in particular in relation to our right to monitor applies equally to the use of social media platforms.
Content that you publish in our name on your own personal social media or instant messaging accounts which could cause damage to our business or our employees may lead to disciplinary action. If the content is particularly offensive or amounts to online bullying / harassment, this will be considered to be a gross misconduct offence in accordance with our disciplinary rules.
In addition to taking care over content published by you, you must not associate yourself with any adverse comment or publication by a third party that relates, or may reasonably be interpreted as relating, to our organisation or anyone working in it. This includes “liking”, “commenting”, “sharing”, “re-tweeting” or in any other way associating with any content published on social media that appears to relate to your place of work or someone associated with it. If you see any comment that appears to relate negatively to the organisation or anyone associated with it, you should not engage in any way with the comment and instead immediately inform your line manager. Any employee who in any way associates with a comment online in the circumstances prohibited in this paragraph is liable to face disciplinary action which, depending upon the circumstances, may lead to dismissal.