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June 15, 2012

HR Fact Friday: NLRB Outlines Acceptable Social Media Policy Elements

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has issued a sample employment social media policy it believes would be lawful and not interfere with employee rights to engage in concerted activities under the National Labor Relations Act.  You can read the NRLB’s report and sample policy here.National SHRM has published an excellent summary of what an employer can say in such a policy.  Below is that summary:

“What exactly can an employer say in its policy?

An employer may prohibit users from posting anything on the Internet in the name of the employer or in a manner that could reasonably be attributed to the employer without prior written authorization from the president or the president’s designated agent. And it’s OK to have a prohibition on representing any opinion or statement as the policy or view of the employer or of any individual in their capacity as an employee. The report concluded with a verbatim copy of a social media policy approved in full. That policy provides that employees must:

  • Know and follow the rules.
  • Be respectful.
  • Be honest and accurate.
  • Post only appropriate and respectful content.
  • Not retaliate

And some language about confidentiality apparently is lawful, as the NLRB approved this policy’s statement that employees ‘maintain the confidentiality of employer trade secrets and private or confidential information. Trade secrets may include information regarding the development of systems, processes, products, know-how and technology. Do not post internal reports, policies, procedures or other internal business-related confidential communications.’ The employer could require employees to respect financial disclosure laws when online and to not create a link from their blog or social networking site to an employer website without identifying himself or herself as an employer associate.

‘Express only your personal opinions,’ the approved policy also stated. ‘Never represent yourself as a spokesperson for the employer.’

The approved policy concluded by saying that ‘associates should not speak to the media on the employer’s behalf without contacting the corporate affairs department. All media inquiries should be directed to them. For more information—if you have questions or need further guidance, please contact your HR representative.’”

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