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Issues in HR: Social media use


With the advent of smart phones and social media, the world has become increasingly small place. If an ordinary person has a strong opinion, you can be sure that his or her opinion would be heard by the general public via facebook, twitter or Google plus. Consequently, the use of social media has spread like wildfire. Young adults, be it in college or at work, can’t resist not checking their facebook and or twitter feed. In fact, many have shared a lot of private details about their personal lives, forcing them to lockdown their social networks on their smart phones using some sort of social media vault.

Moving back to the original subject matter, HR departments in many organizations have become hesitant when it comes to using social media at the workplace.  Companies are mostly worried about employees saying bad things about their employer. Consequently, HR departments across companies both large and small are scrambling to develop policies on what employee can say or cannot say on social media. However, labor law as dictated by NLRA provide full protection to employees who prefer to discuss working condition, pay or working hours over social media, so employees who are reprimanded for such talks cannot be punished.  In a nutshell, employers don’t have the right enforce what employees say on the internet about their employers. However, there are few things that employees and employers need to keep in mind, as saying some things can land you into trouble.

Employee Harassment

Directors and managers need to understand that discrimination against lower level employees can backfire severely. Any Employee who has been discriminated against on social media can seek the help of various anti-discrimination laws especially the civil rights act of 1964 to sue the employer and even the managers involved under certain circumstances.

Intellectual property

Departing employee or angry ones for that matter, cannot disclose company secrets, be it trade secrets or financial information. Sharing such information can be treated as theft of information and a breach of your employment contract.

Employee personal information:

Personal information about employee, such social security number, addresses, sexual orientation, marital status or their medical history shouldn’t be discussed on social media.

Employees checking in:

Employers can potentially use employee social media use against them in certain circumstances. Say for example an employee called in sick that day, and an hour later, that employee updates his or her status message ‘having a great time at Lake Forest Brunswick Bowling Lanes’. That status message can be held against the employee, costing him/her their job.

About Mohammad Irfan Ali

Mohammad Irfan Ali
Mohammad Irfan is the Lead Content Strategist at NewSoftwares. His main interest is in web related threats, phishing scams and social networking hoaxes. He is the admin of Talk Security and regulates the publication of all blogposts.

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