1. Can the employer restrict the employee’s use of Internet and social media during working hours?
There is no comprehensive legal framework under the Indian labour legislations to govern the employees’ usage of Internet and social media by the employer during working hours. Most internet-related transactions and communication are governed by the IT Act and various sub-legislations and guidelines notified under it.
However, employers are gradually defining policies that affect their employees’ participation on social media during working hours. In a few recent decisions of the Indian judiciary, employers have been held to be vicariously liable for the acts of their employees in social media networks.
2. Employee’s use of social media to disparage the employer or divulge confidential information
The employer is entitled to include provisions in employment contracts for ensuring that confidential information, trade secrets and proprietary information are protected from disclosure, and towards this end, many employers retain, via employment contracts or company policy, the right to monitor employees’ activities on social media. Indian courts, typically, take claims of confidentiality breaches and disclosure of sensitive information very seriously. It is an established principle of Indian jurisprudence that an employer has full and exclusive ownership of the information that the employee comes in contact with during the course of employment, including any and all information contained in the employee’s official email accounts. enforceable in a court of law.