As remote work has increased with the COVID-19 pandemic, more state agencies now require their employees to use personal phones and laptops for work, and Utah Public Employees’ Association (UPEA) staffers have seen an increase in workplace related issues involving personal social media usage. Division of Human Resources Management policy R477-9-8 outlines the state’s general social media policies.
R477-9-8. Personal Blogs and Social Media Sites
(1) An employee who participates in blogs and social networking sites for personal purposes may not:
(a) claim to represent the position of the State of Utah or an agency;
(b) post the seal of the State of Utah, or trademark or logo of an agency;
(c) post protected or confidential information, including copyrighted information, confidential information received from agency customers, or agency issued documents without permission from the agency head; or
(d) unlawfully discriminate against, harass or otherwise threaten a state employee or a person doing business with the State of Utah.
(2) An agency may establish policy to supplement this section.
(3) An employee may be disciplined according to R477-11 for violations of this section or agency policy.
State employees should avoid using social media during work hours and be careful not to disclose confidential information about their job duties or workplace. It is also possible for state employees to be disciplined for talking negatively about their job or sharing negative or discriminatory opinions that reflect badly on the state. For example, an employee who shares sexist ideologies on Facebook could be disciplined or even terminated, even if the post does not directly refer to his or her employment with the state. Always err on the side of caution when sharing information and opinions on your personal social media accounts.
Some positions include the responsibility of managing a social media account for the agency or department. If this responsibility is part of your job description, make sure to follow the suggestions listed in the State of Utah Social Media Guidelines.
Questions? Call (801) 264-8732 to reach a UPEA representative.