4 things you NEED to know about Social Media and your Employees

On May 31st, Proforce Personnel hosted an amazing breakfast event at the offices of Stikeman Elliott called “Social Media, a Canadian Employers Friend or Foe?”. The speaker was renowned labour lawyer Stephanie Weschler, from the offices of Stikeman Elliott, who gave incredible insight on the legal aspects of social media in the workplace. For those who were not able to attend, here were some of the interesting themes discussed.

1. If an employee is on medical leave and post pictures on vacation or partying on social media, can you fire them?

Answer: NO.

If an employee is on sick leave, this does not take away their rights to leisure and having fun. However, if an employee is on leave for an injury and posts photos of them doing things they should not be capable of doing, this may be grounds for reviewing, or revoking the sick leave.

2. Can you fire someone from using social media during office hours?

Answer: YES.

The use of social media in your office should be clearly stated in your office policies and handbook. It is also your responsibility to inform your employees of the social media etiquette in your office. If your policies are clear and known to all your staff and they do not respect them, it is grounds for dismissal.

3. Can you choose to not hire someone based on their pictures and posts on social media sites like Facebook/ Instagram and twitter?

Answer: YES.

If a potential employee of yours has social media posts that are deemed harmful, illegal, discriminatory or suggest criminal activity, you are in your right to not employ them, or to fire them if they are already employed by you.

4. Can you access your employee’s emails and chats when they are using the company laptop or gmail account? What if they ask for pictures/ files/ emails to be sent to them after they leave your company?

Answer: Not necessarily.

After an employee leaves your company, they can request that personal pictures they have on the company laptop or computer be sent to them. Emails can be read to determine whether they are of a personal or private nature but cannot be used against the past employee or anyone else in the company.

These themes will be explored in greater depth in further posts but we encourage you to verify your company’s social media policies.


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