Problems often arise when considering what is private and public on social media. Staff may consider their comments as private, but of course once ‘posted’ this is not the case.

Employers cannot ignore social media; you have responsibility to protect corporate reputation and a duty of care to their employees to take the issue seriously.

The key thing is that you must show that any monitoring of social media activities is reasonable, proportionate and ‘relevant to the performance of the job’.

The key aspect is, just because such data is available, it does not mean that an employer should automatically assume they have the right to process it.

The suggestion is not to try to control employees’ use of social media, but to use ‘light touch’ management. There are some practical actions that can be used:

  • Have clear policies and procedures in place, that provide clarity on the use of social media for both employee and employer. These should state what your expectations are
  • In your induction process, tell staff that you may monitor their social media activities in some circumstances
  • Invite staff to report any inappropriate behaviour and explain that online criticism of colleagues or customers is unacceptable

If you do monitor any social media accounts, have a sound reason for doing so and use any data in line with GDPR requirements

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