In Canada, there are several laws that govern an employer’s rights with regards to employees’ use of social media, including:
- The Canadian Human Rights Act (CHRA): This law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of protected grounds, such as race, religion, or sexual orientation. This includes discrimination that occurs on social media.
- The Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA): This law regulates the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by organizations. Employers must ensure that they do not collect, use, or disclose employees’ personal information on social media without their consent.
- The Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) Act: This law requires employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment for employees. This includes protecting employees from harassment, bullying, or other forms of violence, including on social media.
- The Privacy Act: This law regulates the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information by the federal government and its institutions, it applies to the personal information of employees of the federal government.
- The Canadian Labour Code: This federal law regulates the relationship between employers and employees, including the rights and responsibilities of both parties. It also protects employees from unjust dismissal and gives them the right to form and join unions.
It’s important to note that these laws may vary by province and territory, and employers should consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with all applicable laws.
When dealing with employees, social media accounts and the ongoing use thereof, the highest priority for a Canadian employer is to draft maintain and enforce a detailed social media company policy in a consistent and fair manner. When enforcing the social media policy the employer is still obligated to comply with the legal framework for discipline, harassment and grievance processes.
Here is a template that can be used for managing employee use of personal social media accounts:
- The purpose of this policy is to provide guidelines for employees on the appropriate use of social media while representing the company.
- Employees are expected to maintain a professional image and reputation while using social media, and to avoid any actions that may harm the company’s reputation.
- Employees must disclose their affiliation with the company when participating in social media and must not imply that they are speaking on behalf of the company unless they have been authorized to do so.
- Employees must comply with all applicable laws, regulations and company policies when using social media.
- Employees are prohibited from engaging in conduct that constitutes harassment, discrimination, or bullying of any kind, whether directed at colleagues, customers, or other individuals.
- Employees are prohibited from posting confidential or proprietary information about the company or its customers on social media.
- Employees are prohibited from posting false, misleading, or defamatory statements about the company or its competitors on social media.
Social Media Accounts
- Employees must use their personal social media accounts for personal use only and should not use the company’s name, logo, or other copyrighted material in their personal social media profiles without the company’s prior written consent.
- If an employee is using their personal social media account for company business, they must make it clear that their views and opinions are their own and not those of the company.
Monitoring and Enforcement
- The company reserves the right to monitor employee’s use of social media to ensure compliance with this policy and applicable laws.
- Any employee found to be in violation of this policy may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.
- Employees should be aware that social media is public and that once something is posted, it can be difficult to remove or retract.
- Employees are encouraged to speak with their manager or HR representative if they have any questions or concerns about their use of social media.
- The company values the power of social media as a communication tool and encourages employees to use it responsibly. By adhering to this policy, employees can help ensure that the company’s reputation is protected and that the company’s mission is upheld.
In Canada, an employer can terminate an employee’s employment due to social media conduct under certain conditions. These conditions include:
- The employee’s social media conduct is in violation of company policy: If an employee’s conduct on social media is in violation of a company policy, such as a policy on harassment or discrimination, the employer may have grounds for termination.
- The employee’s social media conduct harms the company’s reputation: If an employee’s conduct on social media harms the company’s reputation, such as by making false or defamatory statements, the employer may have grounds for termination.
- The employee’s social media conduct breaches a duty of loyalty or confidentiality: If an employee’s conduct on social media breaches a duty of loyalty or confidentiality, such as by disclosing confidential or proprietary information, the employer may have grounds for termination.
- The employee’s social media conduct is not protected by the Canadian Labor Code: If an employee’s conduct on social media is not protected by the Canadian Labour Code, such as if it constitutes misconduct, the employer may have grounds for termination.
It’s important to note that before terminating an employee’s employment, an employer must have a valid reason, and should follow a fair and reasonable process and conduct a thorough investigation. An employer should also consult with legal counsel to ensure that they are not violating any laws or the employee’s rights.