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Things to remember when using social media

More of our members than ever are active users of social media.

People of all ages take advantage of this great communication tool, but like any tool it can cause harm if not used properly. Most employers have a social media policy and are quick to take action against any employee that violates it. 

To help you avoid falling foul of your employer’s social media policy, Usdaw has compiled the following advice:
 
  • Read your company’s social media policy and ensure you understand it. Ask your Usdaw rep if there’s anything in it that you’re not clear on.
  • Remember that your privacy settings might not be as private as you think, and even if you’ve limited the audience of a post your friends may be able to share it with their friends.
  • As abusive as some customers can be, don’t be tempted to post insulting remarks about them online. Employees at all levels from shopfloor to senior management have been dismissed for this.
  • The same applies for your colleagues – we all have disagreements with people at work, but making comments about them on social media will be treated in the same way as if you said it to them in person. Remember: If you wouldn’t say it to a person’s face, don’t say it to them online.
  • If you’ve called in sick but you’re actually on holiday or in the pub, don’t tag yourself there on social media. You can – and most likely will – be dismissed for this.
  • Be very careful what you post online while you’re under the influence of alcohol. It will still be there in the morning and the damage will have been done, even if you delete it.
  • Employers actively monitor social media for mentions of their company and will see negative comments as soon as they’re posted. They also check out any potential employees so keep this in mind – something you post now may come back to haunt you in the future.
  • Don’t post offensive material under the guise of “banter”. Your employer will not tolerate the posting of any sexist, racist or homophobic remarks – and Usdaw has policies against it too.
How can Usdaw help?

If you face disciplinary proceedings for an alleged breach of social media policy, always inform your Usdaw rep. Our reps are trained in issues of this nature and will be able to identify mitigating circumstances, if there are any. But the most important thing you can do is to think before you post. Avoid making negative remarks about your employer, colleagues or customers and you’ll be fine.

If you become a victim of cyber-bullying – abuse, lies or threats posted on social media – report it to your Usdaw rep and your manager. All forms of workplace bullying are unacceptable and Usdaw will help you get it nipped in the bud. Although they may not specifically refer to cyber-bullying, your employer’s social media and bullying and harassment policies will cover it. 

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