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‘Corporate best practices’ recommended for social media in the workplace

Businesses were urged by the managing director of Australian Business Lawyers and Advisors Tony Vernier, to implement a social media strategy making clear what is acceptable when using these sites.

A new report from global law firm Proskauer also confirms the need for social media workplace practices to be put in place, recommending "corporate best practices" in navigating the challenges of social media use at work.

The report, Social Media in the Workplace Around the World 2.0, compiled 250 responses from other global law firms detailing their social media policies and practices.

"As social media use continues to grow exponentially, it’s raising a thicket of thorny legal issues for employers," said Daniel Ornstein, survey leader, London partner and co-head of the firm’s International Labor & Employment Law Group.

"Although many companies have put in place policies governing employee social media use, there are a number of other risk management measures companies should be pursuing to safeguard their businesses while protecting their employees' right to privacy and freedom of expression."

Some of the "social media best practices" that the report recommends companies should adopt include having a "well-communicated" social media policy that clearly details what is acceptable and unacceptable usage in and outside the workplace and when employment with the company ends.

Another best practice also recommends companies exercise "extreme caution" when relying on information from social media sites to make employment-related decisions such as recruitment and discipline. This is because there is the risk of information being inaccurate and it may infringe individuals' rights to privacy.

The misuse of confidential information by employees on social media is also a rising issue, so it would be best to address these concerns in the company's social media policies.

More than three-quarters of those surveyed used social media for their company – making the need for best practices and guidelines much more relevant – with 10 per cent of this year's respondents stating they had only started it in the past year.

The report also indicated that employers attitudes toward social media were "more positive" – particularly for non-business use – with 40 per cent of employers considering it an advantage to let employees use social media for business and non-business use – compared to last year's figure that was just over 30 per cent.

Posted by April Revake.