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Setting a Policy for Blogs

Protect your company's good name in employees' blogs.

Blogging has recently been causing all kinds of ruckus in the business world. These online journals are far from a harmless pastime--employees from companies including Delta and Google have reportedly been fired for transgressions such as disclosing information about their pay and benefits packages in their personal blogs. How can you protect yourself from negative publicity and employee litigation stemming from blogs?

"We spend so much time at work that the line between work and personal life becomes blurred," says David Micah Kaufman, HR expert and co-author with attorney Deborah Weinsteinof the forth-coming book Blogs@Work. He believes it's necessary to establish an official policy on blogging for your employees. Any policy should prohibit disclosing confidential company information and/or trade secrets. It should also set guidelines about disparaging clients or co-workers, which could be considered harassment.

Weinstein, an employment law expert, adds, "Workers should also be educated on the policy--don't just hand it to them." Discuss exactly what's considered confidential with employees.

Still, employees' personal blogs aren't inherently bad--some companies even encourage them as a way to market the company from the employees' perspective, says Jennifer Loftus, national director with Astron Solutions, an HR company in New York City. The key is communicating standards upfront. Says Loftus, "Think back to when [companies] started adding policies about e-mails--what was all right to disclose and what wasn't--and now take that to the next level."

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This article was originally published in the November 2005 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Right to Write?.

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