Employers Requiring Disclaimers in Employees’ Social Media Posts

In the USA, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) oversees not just unionized workplaces but many others too. Among the issues attracting its attention these days are social media policies of employers. As one might expect, the NLRB protects free speech by employees, especially where employee rights and relations with employers are concerned.

However, the Board has recently confirmed that employers may require employees to disclaim speaking for the employer on the employees’ social media sites. The risk that employers could get in trouble for ideas otherwise imputable to them was considered a valid reason for such disclaimers. However, disclaimers would not be required on individual tweets, for example.

The disclaimer is required only where the employee makes him- or herself identifiable as an employee, however.

Would the same policy prevail in Canada? Would employees have any claim to avoid the need to publish disclaimers on, say, Facebook pages or blogs, or maybe in a Twitter profile?

Is there any authority short of a court to judge such a question, outside the context of a unionized workforce? For that matter, would our labour boards have jurisdiction, outside the scope of an unfair labour practice?

Do employers in practice require such disclaimers? Should they?


  1. I am not aware of an employer practice that employees should put a disclaimer on their social media postings. However, I don’t see a problem with a disclaimer if the employee has made it clear that they are an employee of a specific company. In so doing, I would imagine, the employee is using their employment to lend credence to what they are saying (e.g. a developer for blackberry writing about technology issues). However, there is a quid pro quo involved, the employee gets to bolster their statements with their credentials while the employer gets to protect their overall messaging through disclaimers. Even if that isn’t what the employee is doing, employers are entitled to protect their reputations, and if they cannot control what their employees say in social media they should at least be able to disown it.

    Frankly, I can’t imagine why an employee should have an issue with this? Why should the employee care whether or not the employer implicitly endorses what they are saying?

    As for labour board jurisdiction, presuming we are talking about a unionized employer, I can’t think of another method than through an unfair labour practice. However, even then, the jurisdiction would be narrowed to situations where the employer’s disclaimer someone imapirs a union right under the Act.