1. Can the employer restrict the employee’s use of Internet and social media during working hours?
Under PRC Labor Contract Law, the employer could formulate its internal policies in accordance with law. If such policies involve the matters such as working hours, work discipline, etc., which have a direct impact on employees’ immediate rights and interests, the said policies shall be discussed by the employee representative congress or all employees, and then determined by the employer after consultation with the labor union or employee representatives. Therefore, if the employer’s restriction on employees’ use of internet and social media during working hours is a part of its internal policies which have undergone the said democratic process and been announced to all employees or informed to the specific employee, or is incorporated in the employee’s employment contract, it could be valid and enforceable.
2. Employee’s use of social media to disparage the employer or divulge confidential information
If the employer intends to prohibit employee’s use of social media to disparage the employer or any personnel of the employer, it must have clear management rules which have undergone the democratic process.
Regarding the confidential information, pursuant to the PRC Labor Contract Law, confidentiality obligation could be agreed upon between the employer and employee in the employment contract. If the employee has divulged confidential information to any third party, the employer could claim any damage incurred thereof against the employee.