A Social Media Policy is essential in every workplace

Posted on 27 February 2012

Following on from our previous blogs regarding social media in the workplace - a recent decision by Fair Work Australia (FWA) has highlighted the importance of  a social media policy in any workplace.

In the recent decision of Stusel v Linfox Australia Pty Ltd [2011], FWA ruled that Stusel’s dismissal was unjustified. Stusel was terminated for making private comments regarding his managers on his Facebook page. This was labeled as serious misconduct by Linfox and in their view substantiated the immediate dismissal. However, Stusel argues that he had set his Facebook page with the maximum privacy settings making his comments visible to only a select group of friends.

FWA accepted Stusel’s argument that his comments were not made in a public forum and was purely an avenue for him to interact with only his friends regarding his work related comments. Subsequently, FWA ordered Stusel be reinstated.

FWA did not find that there was a valid reason for Mr Stusel’s termination and highlighted the importance of a social media policy. In short, FWA was critical of Linfox for failing to have a social media policy implemented given the “current electronic age”.  Had Linfox implemented a social media policy detailing what conduct was not acceptable Mr Stusel would have been in breach of the policy and this would have provided Linfox with a basis to take the disciplinary action.

What is social media?

Social media encompasses many different forms which includes internet forums, weblogs and social blogs to name a few. The most commonly known forms of social media include Facebook, Twitter and You Tube.

What should be included in a social media policy?

A social media policy should include the following key points:

  1. A definition of social media
  2. Unacceptable social media behavior 
  3. Acceptable use of social media
  4. Make employees aware of the dangers of social media
  5. Consequences that will arise if there is a breach of the policy

It is important not only to have a social media policy but to make sure it is given to every employee, it is accessible and to reinforce the social media policy by providing regular training to your employees to gain its full worth.

If you would like advice about implementing a social media policy in your workplace please contact us to arrange a meeting.