How many of you have an internet and e-mail monitoring policy at your office? Does the policy state that the company’s computer system is for business purposes and that the company may monitor internet usage and e-mails? Does it say that employees should have no expectation of privacy with the internet and e-mails? If you do not have an internet and e-mail policy or if your policy is not well drafted, your corrective action, be it discipline or termination, may not go as smoothly as you’d like if you do not have a sound policy in place.
Why do you need an internet and e-mail monitoring policy?
You need an internet and e-mail monitoring policy so that it is abundantly clear to employees that the e-mail and computer system is provided for business purposes only and can be checked at any time. By having such a policy, employees will not be able to claim that they thought their internet and e-mail usage was private — in legalize, the employees have no expectation of privacy. With this policy in place, an employer that learns of improper or inappropriate usage of the internet or e-mails can take swift action to discipline or terminate an employee and avoid any claim that the employer should not have looked at internet usage or personal e-mails.
What should an internet e-mail policy contain?
An internet and e-mail policy does not need to be long and drawn out. It should simply explain the extent of the company’s monitoring policy, and, as a result of this monitoring, the employee has no reasonable expectation of privacy when using the internet or e-mail at work. This policy is often placed in the employee handbook. Something as simple as the statements below is a good starting point:
Electronic mail or e-mail shall only be used to facilitate transmittal of business-related information or other official company business. The company reserves the right to access all e-mail and computer files without advance notice or permission from users or employees.
Internet access is provided by the company on a limited basis in order to facilitate company work. The use of the company’s internet access for personal purposes is not permitted and the use of the company’s computers to gain access to inappropriate websites may result in discipline.
So, do you have an e-mail and internet usage policy? If not, consider adding one to your employee handbook. Of course, whether you have an employee handbook is another good question.