The importance of a business having a good Internet and email usage policy is that it allows for effective management and control of the Internet within the workplace. These policies should define the appropriate use of the Internet for employees so they know what is expected of them, as well as laying down the tracking and monitoring requirements so employees know of their privacy rights. The policies are the starting point for any disciplinary action to be taken against employees and will also act as a deterrent as employees will be aware that their internet and emails are being monitored.
An internet policy will usually cover all employees who have access to the internet through company property. Certain people may have different access rights depending on circumstances, such as their job role or seniority, but what is to expected of these individuals should be made aware to them.
An email policy should state that once an email is sent from a company address or has company details on it then this becomes a representation of the company. This can then explain that all emails should uphold the company’s standards and any relevant communication policies will apply.
Even though these policies should be contained within employee handbooks the employer could carry out further training sessions on issues such as Internet security or Internet usage to provide a link and to ensure that all employees are aware and understand these.
A clear policy will contain sanctions to be taken against the employees to discipline for misuse of the Internet within the workplace. Sanctions for low-level abuses, such as using unauthorised social media websites during working hours, should start with low-level sanctions, such as informal warnings, but repeated abuse can increase sanctions at a reasonable rate. Abuse of the policy where there may be legal repercussions, such as browsing illegal inappropriate sites using company equipment, would reasonably be expected to lead to higher disciplinary action, but any procedure, or stated sanction level, contained within the policy must be followed.
Without such guidelines the employer is not protected against the employee using the Internet for non-work activity. This will have different levels of impact on the business, such as a reduction in workers’ productivity, quality of work due to lesser time spent on it or further actions for illegal access.
If you need any clarification on this issue then contact the Peninsula Advice Service on 0844 892 2772