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Guidance

What is the purpose of the policy?

NHSGGC recognises that many employees participate in social networking sites outside of work hours. In the majority of cases this is uncomplicated and trouble-free. The intention of this policy is not to interfere with an employee’s personal life however there are potential risks/nuisances associated with the use of social media; risks which individuals may not even be aware of.

What is Social media?

The term ‘social media’ is used to describe on-line technologies and practices that are used to share information, knowledge and opinions. Social media services and tools can involve a combination of technology, telecommunications and some form of online social interaction and can use a variety of different formats, e.g. text, images, video and audio. It includes social networking (e.g. Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and Linkedin), blogging applications (e.g. Twitter, Blackberry Instant Messaging, Blogger and WordPress), multimedia sharing and networking applications (e.g. YouTube, Flickr and Skype), information sharing sites (e.g. Wikipedia), review and opinion sites (e.g. Google Answers and Yahoo! Answers), forums (e.g. Mumsnet, Digital Spy and iVillage), dating sites and personal web pages. This list is not exhaustive.

What are employee’s responsibilities whilst at work?

As a general rule, NHSGGC employees are not allowed access to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter on the NHSGGC network unless authorised for business purposes (see Policy on Corporate Use of Social Media). Where employees bring their own personal mobile devices into the workplace, they must limit their use of these devices in relation to personal use of social media to official rest breaks, such as lunch-times.

What are employee’s responsibilities when not at work?

All employees are responsible for any information they make available on-line whether this was posted during work hours, during breaks or when not at work. The Board considers employees to be responsible and accountable for information contained on their social networking page or blog. Employees need to be aware of what is posted/uploaded to sites they control and that they would be expected to manage any inappropriate material responsibly.
Employees must not...

• Send information, forward e-mails or send images (e.g. photos, cartoons, graphics) on-line about NHSGGC, its services, facilities, staff, patients or third parties, which are confidential, defamatory, discriminatory, harassing, illegal, threatening, intimidating or which may incite hatred (e.g sectarianism/racism/homophobia).
• Direct defamatory, threatening or intimidating comments on-line towards other NHSGGC employees. If they do so, this will be judged in terms of the amount of harm caused and the size of the audience who will see the comments (e.g. how many people would actually see the comments on-line and just how bad were those comments considered to be?).
• Send or post images/photos of patients, services users or employees in the workplace, that would not otherwise be considered to be a public place, unless the express authority of the subject has been secured and that consent is based upon a full understanding of how the image will be used.
• Employees will inevitably discuss aspects of their working day with others, either face-to-face, over the telephone or on-line. Employees must however be cautious about discussing work-related issues and complaints in a manner which could cause reputational damage to individuals, their own reputation or that of the Board as their employer. Legitimate concerns should always be addressed through the appropriate Board policies e.g. NHSGGC Grievance Policy, Dignity at Work Policy and/or local whistle-blowing procedures.
• Use their works e-mail address to register on a social network or e-commerce website (e.g. eBay, Amazon, Groupon)

Breaches of the Personal Use of Social Media Policy

Any breaches of this policy may be subject to the Board’s Disciplinary Policy and other associated policies such as Dignity at Work. (In applying these policies full use will be made of the supportive improvement provisions of the Disciplinary Policy.)

Employees should be aware...
That if they disclose the name of the Board as their employer, they should make it clear when publishing their opinions on-line, that these are their own personal views and that they do not represent the views of NHSGGC.

The HR Support and Advice Unit can be contacted on 0141 278 2700 if you have any further questions or need advice on this policy area.