Levy Court Commissioners tabled a social media policy at their Tuesday committee meeting so more work can be done on it.

Levy Court Commissioners tabled a social media policy at their Tuesday committee meeting so more work can be done on it.

Personnel Director Allan Kujala originally introduced the policy to the commissioners during the committee meeting on April 19. It was during this meeting that the commissioners asked him to take it to the Employee Council to get their input.

County Administrator Mike Petit de Mange brought the policy back to Levy Court’s committees on Tuesday, as Kujala was unable to attend the meeting.

“There was no huge opposition to doing a social media policy. They understood the basic purpose for it but there were some concerns with portions of the policy,” Petit de Mange said.

The policy primarily would prohibit employees from using social media during working hours and additionally would prohibit some conduct during non-working hours. Prohibited activities in the policy include promoting illegal activity, promoting or endorsing violence, the disparagement of coworkers, offensive or harassing comments directed at coworkers, and disclosure of confidential information.

Employees also would have a duty to report inappropriate use of social media by coworkers or supervisors.

Those who violate the policy would be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Petit de Mange said some of the concerns of the employee council were what would constitute a violation, how these violations were determined and the consequences of violations.

The Levy Court commissioners shared some of these concerns.

Levy Court Vice President Allen Angel spoke with Commissioner Eric Buckson, who wasn’t at the meeting, prior to the meeting in reference to some of the wording used in the policy.

The policy says employees have a duty to report inappropriate use of social media and shall report the activity to a supervisor. Angel thinks that instead of the terms “duty” and “shall” that the policy should say “employees are encouraged to report inappropriate use of social media.”

Commissioner George “Jody” Sweeney took issue with the policy dictating what employees can and can’t do outside of their workday.

“You’re asking for us to throw this policy in to have employees act in a certain way so we’re kind of policing their social behavior,” Sweeney said. “If they’re not doing their job, that should be a supervisory issue not a social media issue.”

Sweeney continued stating that there is already a policy in place regarding employee non-performance. He also has an issue with the policy not allowing employees to say anything bad about their job after work. Under this policy, if a person complains about their job after hours, it would be grounds for termination because it would be considered a violation and to Sweeney this violates freedom of speech.

Like the employee council, Commissioner Brad Eaby also is concerned with how an employer would prove there is a violation of the policy.

“From an employer’s standpoint, I think it can be hard to prove someone isn’t performing. Even though they are on Twitter, Facebook, blogging, they can still be performing. It would be hard to discipline them or hard to prove they are not performing,” Eaby said.

Eaby continued saying smart phones could impact performance because social media is personal so if an employee is fighting with their significant other through social media, it could be a distraction. When people are distracted, mistakes are likely to be made.

After some lengthy discussion over the concerns of the policy, Petit de Mange explained to the commissioners the push for this policy is in human resources due to issues employers are having when it comes to disciplining employees for social media use.

“Generally speaking, it’d probably be a good thing to have some type of policy so that our employees know what the parameters are and what’s appropriate,” he said.

The discussion concluded with the commissioners tabling the policy, asking that more work be done on it. They also want the Personnel Administration Board to take a look at it. The policy will be brought back to Levy Court at a later date.

Email Jennifer Dailey at jennifer.dailey@doverpost.com