Toronto votes on whether to 'like' Facebook

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Councillors at the Toronto government management committee will meet next week to consider lifting an employee ban on the use of Facebook.

Committee chairman Paul Ainslie will reportedly call on city officials to discuss the possibility of lifting the network firewall which currently bans access to Facebook – a ban that has been in place since former Mayor David Miller instated it. Ainslie commented that the committee had received numerous complaints from employees asking ‘Why can’t we access it?’

Ainslie will call for a policy to ensure employees use the social networking site “appropriately”, but added he was confident the privilege would not be abused.

“The policy should encourage staff to limit personal use of Facebook the same way they limit personal telephone calls or Internet usage,” Ainslie argued.

“I think we’re all adults and everybody is supervised for their level of work. I think if there is somebody that is abusing Facebook in the workplace, that is quickly going to stand out that they are not getting their work done,” he added.

A spokesman said the city’s current policy requires employees to obtain approval before using any social media for business purposes.

According to workplace law specialists, People + Culture Strategies, employers should seek to regulate employee’s social media activity, and managing principal Joydeep Hor provided guidelines for employers as to what a good social media policy would ideally include.

“It should be well integrated with other policies in place within the organisation and be up-to-date, clear and concise. Its content will be specific to the needs of each organisation but some common areas include:

  • The ways in which social media should be used during work hours and how staff usage will be monitored (if at all)

  • Guidelines about communicating with colleagues or managers online – for instance, by sending friend requests to other staff (this is especially important in relation to managers communicating with subordinate employees)

  • A reminder that all of an employee’s usual obligations as employees continue to apply while using social media (this includes the application of sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination policies)

  • Guidelines around the use of confidential information, and any disparaging or defamatory comments made directly or indirectly in relation to the organisation, its management, or clients; and

  • A reminder that comments made regardless of whether they are made on a company’s Twitter account for instance or on an employee’s own private account in their own time may be subject to disciplinary action, including termination, even when those comments may appear to be unrelated to an employee’s work.


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