Social media can offer huge benefits to salons and barbershops. But it is important to ensure your hair & beauty team understand what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to posting, whether at work or at home.

A strict social media policy on personal use, yet encouragement to post about the salon’s business on official sites, can leave your team feeling you are giving mixed messages about their social use at work. This is another good reason to have a clearly communicated policy in place to provide much-needed clarity.

The business pitfalls of social media

Social media is a great tool for engaging with clients, however, alongside its many benefits there are potential business pitfalls, which you, as salon owner, should be alert to.

Let’s look at an example:

At the NHF Legal Lifeline we’re often asked for advice when a disgruntled employee leaves negative comments about their employer, colleagues or general work issues, either on an official salon site or on their own personal social sites.

This can cause two problems:

  1. It can leave you feeling the reputation of your hair & beauty business has been damaged.
  2. It can cause friction between your salon team, especially if one employee feels bullied or harassed as a result.

The answer: we recommend you introduce a specific Social Media Policy. The NHF’s standard employment contracts also now include an element on social media, so they should be the first port of call for any NHF Member. They are free and ready-to-use; you can find them here.

Setting up a salon social media policy

There are a number of key issues to consider:

1. Set clear standards

Most of the time, social posts are made by employees outside work time and will only be viewable by a select group of friends. As the salon owner you should ensure your employees are aware of what is expected of them in respect of posts on both salon and personal sites.

For example, your social media policy might outline:

  • When social networking is allowed, perhaps during lunch or rest breaks outside of normal working hours, and whether company equipment may be used.
  • Some salons restrict social media use to non-client areas such as the staff room.
  • If you do permit social media during working time or on salon equipment, it’s a good idea to set a maximum time limit. Consider too whether to impose a restriction on sites that can be visited during working hours.
  • Your social media policy should also set out the potential consequences of any breach, and the likelihood of disciplinary action; up to and including dismissal.
If you want to rely on your social media policy for disciplinary purposes, it is important to clearly state that inappropriate posting includes messages or comments made outside work time and on personal sites, and which may have an impact on the employee’s ability to perform their role, or posts that may damage the employer’s reputation or cause embarrassment.

2. Disciplinary action arising from social media abuse

A word of caution, social networking can make it difficult and even risky to take disciplinary action against a salon employee as the conduct may well have happened outside of the course of their employment, and arguably there has been no detrimental effect on your hair & beauty business.

Here’s an example of what we mean:

A few years ago, an employment tribunal found an employee (who was summarily dismissed for making negative comments about the employer on a social networking site) was unfairly dismissed. The tribunal ruled:

  • The social post had not specifically referred to the employer
  • Nor was there any evidence the employer had suffered any embarrassment
  • Nor was there any likelihood of any harm to the company

Salon and barbershop owners therefore need to show they have acted fairly and reasonably in taking formal disciplinary action and, most importantly, any decision to dismiss has not been a knee-jerk reaction.

Have a problem with social media in your salon? Need to understand your legal position? The NHF’s Legal Lifeline offers employment and commercial law advice to NHF Members. For peace of mind call our Lifeline for free practical answers to your business questions. Learn more here.

The key points

Your social media policy should set parameters for internet use within your salon or barbershop:

  • It should outline the consequences of any breach.
  • It should cover posting about work from personal sites.
  • But disciplining people over social media is not always possible.