Home > Workplace Safety > Internet and Email Policy

Internet and Email Policy

By: Jeff Durham - Updated: 21 Feb 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Email Internet Work Computer Access

Most businesses will use the Internet and e-mail every day in the general running of the business. Whether this is just internally or externally contacting customers and dealing with suppliers etc.

Why Have a Policy?

The purpose of implementing Internet and e-mail policies at work is to ensure that employees understand the way in which it should be used. It should:
  • Enable both employees and the company to derive the maximum benefit from e-mail and the Internet
  • Alert employees to the dangers that can arise to the organisation if it is misused
  • Inform employees of the consequences of any misuse, including possible disciplinary action

Obviously, some companies are stricter than others when it comes to Internet and e-mail use and some may require its employees to use it more than others so there is no standard policy right across the board. However, any organisation should have a clear and coherent policy which is understood fully by its own employees.

Implications Regarding The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

Employees can sometimes be suspicious of their e-mail and Internet use being monitored by their employers and it is necessary to ensure that employers are compliant with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). The Information Commissioner has produced 'The Employment Practices Code' which includes guidance on and employer's rights to monitor staff. The code recommends that employers carry out an impact assessment to establish whether their Internet and e-mail monitoring complies with the DPA.

Such an assessment should identify:

  • The purpose of the monitoring
  • The benefits it is likely to deliver
  • Any likely adverse impact

Once the Risk Assessment has been completed, it is important that a code of practice is drawn up and made available to employees as to what is and isn't acceptable use of e-mail and the Internet and their approach to monitoring.

Policies can state that viewing pornographic material, for example, is prohibited and highlight disciplinary procedures for those who break the rules.

Network Security

The risk from the Internet to an individual computer is limited. However, most organisations with Internet access will also have their own computers linked into a local network which then becomes vulnerable to misuse - be that unintentional or deliberate. Technical security features can include:
  • Firewalls - to protect against unauthorised access
  • Protocols - which can encrypt sensitive information
  • Anti-virus software - which can prevent the threat of viruses invading and shutting down the computer network although there is still an element of risk and employees should be made fully aware of the company's policy on downloading files
  • Passwords - Any policy should state what the rules are for employees changing passwords and for disclosing them

Browsing the Internet

The policy must state who will be allowed Internet access and whether that can be for business use only or can include personal use. The problem is that, even for business use, web browsing can become unfocused and time consuming, wasting both the company's and the employee's time. Often, the IT department may monitor what sites are being browsed and by whom and, if monitoring of this kind takes place, it should be stated in the policy alongside any action that could take place should an employee misuse the Internet. The policy should state unequivocally that browsing offensive, obscene or indecent material is strictly forbidden.

Using Email

E-mail communication is so quick that it has garnished a reputation of being as informal as using the telephone but it is important to remember that it has the same permanence of other forms of written communication and, as such, must be controlled.

The policy should state whether it can be used for business use only or is also permitted for personal communication and should state that sending offensive material will not be tolerated. The sender of a message which causes offence should be subject to the normal disciplinary procedures and remember that unlike verbal communication, an e-mail is often hard evidence to back up a particular complaint. Employees should also be made aware if their e-mail is being monitored.

The Internet and e-mail has revolutionised the speed and the way in which we can communicate at our place of work but, for all its benefits, there are the drawbacks associated with the loss of productivity if the access is abused - some people have even been known to e-mail the person next to them to ask a simple question - hardly an efficient use of time.

Then there are also the wider implications of security. A significant risk to a company's security occurs through inappropriate and careless use of computer networks so a company should be extremely vigilant when drawing up its own policy on e-mail and Internet use and ensure that employees are fully aware of what the policy contains and the consequences of abusing it.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
My daughter just gone back to work after having a baby. They won’t her to change her shift from 8.30 am -5.15pm. To 6am 2pm. Can she refuse as no childcare at 5am in morning. The baby is 8month old.
Lennie16 - 21-Feb-19 @ 9:51 AM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Dee
    Re: Should He Be Allowed to Work Alone at Night?
    I work lone nights in a semi independent living accommodation , currently with 4 17 - 19 year old residents .…
    18 May 2019
  • Carlos
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    Hi it’s it normal practice to be asked twice to ring into work on first day of sickness thanks
    17 May 2019
  • Tag
    Re: Sickness: Your Rights
    Hi, my employer sent an office staff to my home unannounced on the 7th day of my sick leave due to mental health problems with a letter to…
    16 May 2019
  • Kate
    Re: Safe Working Temperatures
    Hi I am working for law company as a cleaner and preparing hot drinks for meetings.I am working in small kitchen without AC and the…
    14 May 2019
  • Ronnie
    Re: Safe Working Temperatures
    I work in a school I work in the swimming area and the thermometer says 36 degrees it is so hot, what are my rights to this? Thanks…
    14 May 2019
  • Keke
    Re: Employer Has Changed My Shifts: What Are My Rights?
    Can my boss change my availability.When I started I put down 8-4.30 due to my son in school.now they…
    13 May 2019
  • fox
    Re: Holiday Pay & Overtime: The Changes
    Worked for the same company 9-4.30 5 days a week for 5 years. They said that they couldn't afford a payroll system…
    12 May 2019
  • Laurie
    Re: Violence at Work
    I am a new server, I was working my shift in the Morning a Guest looked at a high chair and asked if the high chair was to Kill and Bury a Server?…
    12 May 2019
  • Nick
    Re: When Your Employer Changes Your Working Hours
    Our work demands that we are available for work as they see fit. We have minimum 40 hours gauranteed over 6…
    12 May 2019
  • Salam
    Re: Driving at Work
    I work for a skip company, we get payed for a day base rate and after 7 jobs done we get a bonus, but I don't thinks is ok. The drivers just rush…
    11 May 2019