Managing

Employee fired after posting pay cheque on Instagram: Why your company needs a social media policy

Patrick Stafford /

Businesses have once again been warned to update their social media policies – and actually get employees to read them – after an incident in the United States in which a worker was fired for posting his pay cheque on Instagram.

The incident is just another example of companies getting into strife with social media accounts. Over the past few years businesses have had their accounts hacked, or have faced embarrassing posts from their employees.

In 2012, the chief financial officer of a publicly-listed company lost his job because he “improperly communicated company information through social media”.

Earlier this week, Wade Groom, an employee of Lacoste’s Manhattan store, posted his pay cheque on Instagram while lamenting his relatively low rate of pay.

“Ever since I was a kid I’ve thought it was completely insane that we have to work all our lives,” he said on the Instagram post. “Especially when it’s only enough to live in a third world apartment with shitty everything.”

The Gothamist reports he was approached by HR two weeks later and told his post infringed on the company’s confidentiality agreements.

“I guess I signed a confidentiality agreement with something about social media, but who reads those?” Groom told AOL. “I had to sign to get the job.”

The use of social media by employees has been a problem for employers, especially as many users combine their accounts to post both private and work-related content.

Lawyers have previously warned employers to become more stringent around times when social media use by employees is likely to be active – such as Christmas time.

But James Griffin, of online reputation management group SR7, told SmartCompany this morning social media goes beyond just a quick reminder every now and then. Businesses need to start putting social media use into policies that are signed off by every employee – and then acted upon.

“Companies introduced email usage policies and general web usage policies, so there’s nothing much different about having a social media policy,” he says.

“This is one organisation that has put it on their roster to manage and mitigate this type of activity, and they know it needs to be enforced about having a social media policy, and also a content strategy.”

However, Griffin says there are complexities to consider.

“People use social media for professional and personal activities, so it does cause some trouble in that grey area.

“If you’re going to take risks on social media, then that’s going to become an issue for your employer, even if you get a disclaimer or not.”

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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