International Society of Primerus Law Firms

Social Media at Work

By Jan Dop, LL.M.
Russell Advocaten, B.V.
Amsterdam, Netherlands

Are you allowed to check what employees post on Twitter and Instagram? Can you impose rules on your personnel regarding the use of WhatsApp? How do you deal with social media in the workplace?

Almost everyone, young and old, is active on social media. Social media are available everywhere, including in the workplace. This can be rather tricky for employers. After all, how do you deal with employees using their office phone for personal messages? Are you allowed to impose rules on your personnel with regard to contacting clients via LinkedIn? And are you permitted to check your employees’ Facebook profiles?

Whatsapping on Office Phone

These days, many employers provide their employees with office phones. Such a telephone is meant to be used for work but is likely to be used for private purposes too. Is this allowed? And if so, where is the limit? Employers can make arrangements regarding the use in a social media policy, for instance by prohibiting the use or by only permitting restricted use.

LinkedIn and Non-solicitation Clause

Usually, an employment contract contains a non-solicitation clause and/or non-compete clause. Employees are not allowed to contact clients of their former employers or to join competitors. However, this does not cover “friendships” on social media, such as LinkedIn relationships.

So how can you prevent difficulties arising on whether or not it is also prohibited to contact clients via Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn?

Holiday Pictures on Social Media During Sick Leave

Social media also play a role in sick leave. There are many examples of dismissal cases in which the employer had to find out through a picture of a sunny beach on Facebook that a “sick” employee isn’t so sick after all. But can employees be dismissed for this reason or does the employer have to impose other sanctions?

Our Tip

How do you deal with whatsapping and facebooking employees? How can you put social media use of employees on the right track?

As an employer, it is vital to maintain a clear policy regarding social media use by employees. Your policy and the consequences in the event of failure to comply with this policy must be clearly communicated to and accepted by your employees. To this end, you can lay down a written “social media policy”, include a social media clause in the employment contracts of your employees, or include the rules in an employee handbook.

More information

The lawyers at Russell Advocaten will gladly help you drafting a social media policy, an employment contract containing a social media clause, or an employee handbook stating what is allowed and what the sanctions are in the event of not complying with the code of conduct. Please contact us.


The general information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, and should not be construed as, legal advice or legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances.

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