Policing social media when it’s off the clock (Toughest HR Question)

Exercising authority over employees' social posts depends on many factors
By Tim Mitchell
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/03/2013

Question: How much authority can an employer exercise over what an employee posts on social media on her own time, particularly if the employer’s public image is important to its business? What about cases when the employee specifically mentions the employer or other employees?

Answer: The degree of authority an employer can exercise over what an employee posts on social media during her own time depends on a number of factors including — but not limited to — whether or not the employee is using a computer belonging to the employer, whether that employer has a social media/information technology policy and, of course, what the employee is posting about. This answer focuses on the postings themselves. There must be a nexus or some sort of connection between the posting and the employer/workplace to warrant employer interference.

Employers have already started exercising indirect authority over what employees post on social media in their free time by using such postings as evidence to justify termination.