Friday, May 22, 2015

Workplace Internet Use Policies

Employer’s today can’t afford not to have strong Internet use policies in the workplace.  In an age of instant internet access, controlling the use of the Internet by employees on company time is imperative. Unfortunately, many employers either do not have a policy or they do not enforce it. This is a mistake for several reasons.

First, if your employees are busy shopping on line, updating social networks or chatting with friends and family during the work day, productivity suffers. Internet use polices need to make clear that use of the Internet that is not related to the employee’s job duties and responsibilities is prohibited. The policy should also clearly state that the failure to abide by the Internet Use policy, will result in discipline including termination in appropriate cases.

In addition, the cost of Internet misuse by employees results in the employer paying employees for time that was spent on non-work related activities. The cost to the employer over time can be substantial.  No employer wants to be in this position.  Such a result can be prevented with a strong Internet use policy.

Finally, unauthorized Internet activities by employees can also create potential liability for the employer. For example, Internet access to websites and other material with sexually explicit content through a workplace computer may create a sexually hostile work environment for co-workers. If one employee walks by and sees another employee looking at inappropriate websites, liability may attach to the employer for allowing employees access to objectionable content. 

For the reasons noted, employers should make sure that they have a well-drafted Internet use policy in place that clearly defines acceptable and unacceptable uses.  The policy needs to be communicated to all employees and strictly enforced by the employer. Taking these steps will serve the employer well in today’s workplace.