Use of social media

social-overload-bigPCS members should be aware that HMRC have decided to allow limited access to social media sites on work IT systems.

As such, we are providing advice to members on the use of social media both in and out of work and also details of how you can interact with your union on social media.

Advice to members

In the first instance, we would ask staff to consider carefully whether they need to use HMRC computers to access social media.

Although one of the social media sites allowed by the department – Yammer – requires a work email to sign up, once you have signed up you can still access the site on non-work systems. Many people now have smart phones on which they can use social sites, and although certain policies still apply this dramatically reduces the risk of computer misuse.

HMRC allows employees reasonable personal use of IT systems provided that it is in your own time, doesn’t have a detrimental impact on departmental business and doesn’t contravene the Acceptable Use policy.

Be careful what you say online and how you say it. For example, don’t be derogatory or disrespectful about colleagues, managers or the employer. Inappropriate comments might lead to disciplinary action against you. Remember that the HMRC Conduct policy, the PCS Harassment Protocol, the Civil Service Code and the new Cabinet Office social media guidance all apply to personal social media use, whether in or outside work.

In addition to making sure that you don’t fall foul of the employer’s rules, we would advise all members to take steps to stay safe online.

Most sites have a series of security levels that limit the amount of content generally available. If you are unsure about what this may be, try asking someone who doesn’t have access to your confidential data how much they can find out about you online. Then think about the level of security you are happy with.

As a general rule of thumb, don’t publish your home address, mobile or home phone numbers or email address on social media.

If you have any questions or concerns, speak to your nearest PCS rep. If you are being questioned about your social media or IT usage or are facing disciplinary proceedings, please seek representation at the earliest possible opportunity.

PCS on social media

Whilst it is important to stay safe, social media is still a useful tool for keeping in touch with people and keeping up to date with events, and we would encourage sensible use.

PCS Bootle Taxes Branch has a presence on Facebook and Twitter. If you use Facebook, please like the branch page or add us as a friend. If you are on Twitter, please follow @pcsbootletaxes as well as @PCSRCGroup and @pcs_union.

There are official ‘PCS Union Members’ and ‘PCS R&C Group’ Facebook groups which members who use Facebook are encouraged to join. An unofficial PCS R&C group is also quite popular and generates a lot of debate and discussion.

To join the official groups, as well as clicking ‘request to join’ on the group page, you need to send your name (or Facebook username) and membership number (or National Insurance Number) to PCS. Contact Jim Knotts (jimk@pcs.org.uk) for the HMRC group. Contact Anne Thornton (annet@pcs.org.uk) or Ennis Hassan (ennis@pcs.org.uk) for the main PCS group.

If you use Yammer, you can join the unofficial groups ‘PCS Bootle Taxes Branch’ and ‘PCS HMRC Group Members’ to connect with fellow union members on the site.

Of course, if you don’t use social media, union reps can still be found in that strange realm outside of cyberspace known as ‘the real world’ and the branch will update members regularly when issues and disputes arise.

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