Email Usage Policy

  • HR Policies Documentation
Email Usage Policy
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Peninsula Group, HR and Health & Safety Experts

(Last updated )

Read our Email Usage Policy advice guides for employers, or contact us for further HR, Health & Safety and Employment law advice.

Corporate emails are powerful tools which allow employers and employees to carry out daily tasks. When creating employment policies, it’s very important to have an email usage policy.

As an employer, you must develop a policy that outlines your company's email etiquette and preferred communication protocols.

Failure to have email policies can cause employers to face significant financial and reputational costs.

In this guide, we'll discuss email usage policies, how to create one for your business, and examples of appropriate and inappropriate use of company email.

What is an email usage policy?

An email usage policy is a set of clear guidelines a company develops to ensure employees use their email in line with business rules.

The policy usually varies depending on each company. But there are general terms that are typically common for most companies.

Why do you need a company email policy?

The benefits of a corporate email usage policy include protecting your company’s brand and reducing the risk of data breaches.

The following are three solid reasons why businesses should adopt an email policy:

Protecting company reputation

Any email sent by employees through business means may end up in the public domain, causing reputational harm.

Sensitive information, gossip, and insulting or discriminatory messages are some examples of this.

A holistic policy for corporate email accounts helps employers protect their company's reputation and technological property.

Improving information security

The majority of cyber-attacks on company computers begin with phishing attempts, and the human factor plays a crucial role here. A large number of these phishing attacks are aimed at small businesses.

Having email policies is critical for promoting positive and effective communication. A policy serves to raise awareness while also protecting the company from liability, data loss, and downtime.

Email policies that require the use of anti-malware programs are more beneficial. These types of policies make it difficult for hackers to find access points to the company's confidential data.

Reducing liability and improving regulatory compliance

No employer wants to face the financial and reputational costs of a lawsuit involving data abuse.

Email policies that are clearly defined can help you manage data protection breaches in your business.

These can include highly confidential data such as Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and intellectual property.

What is the appropriate use of company email?

Employees are free to use their corporate email for work-related purposes. For example, they can use it to:

  • Contact current or prospective customers and partners.
  • Get in touch with a service provider.
  • Log in to any purchased software that they have legitimate access to.
  • Connect to people they meet at corporate events for business purposes.
  • Subscribe to online services that will help them in their professional development.

Additionally, employees can use their corporate email for select personal reasons. These are:

  • Signing up for professional meetups or courses.
  • Sending emails to friends and families as long as they don't include spam or confidential information.
  • Downloading e-books, manuals and content for their personal use as long as it's safe and appropriate.

What is inappropriate use of company email?

Employees are officially representing their company when they communicate through their business email address. This makes it their obligation to ensure compliance with their company's email and internet usage policy while sending and receiving emails.

When employees use their corporate email, they shouldn't be opening attachments from unknown senders. Also, they shouldn't be sending offensive or inappropriate emails to anyone.

This means that they must not:

  • Send out unsolicited emails to people.
  • Sign up for competitor's services or other websites without authority. 
  • Sign up for illegal, unreliable, or suspect websites and platforms.
  • Send out unauthorised marketing content (or solicitation emails).
  • Send out insulting or discriminatory messages to people. These can be about age, race, political and religious beliefs, national origin, or disability.
  • Purposefully spam anyone's email, including other employees in their company.

How to create an email usage policy

Establishing email policies and informing your staff is crucial. Add these policies to your employee handbook, contracts, and procedures.

As an employer, make sure you keep the following considerations in mind when creating an email policy for your company:

Create a separate email account for each employee

Each of your employees should have their own email address that contains their name and the domain name of your company.

Make sure that corporate emails are protected by strong passwords of at least eight characters.

Develop security measures

Make sure your email server is encrypted and that you're using secure connections.

Always have your anti-malware programs updated and use them to check incoming and outgoing emails for security issues.

Every sixty days, remind your employees to change their email password.

Set limits for personal use

Allow your employees to only use company emails for personal use after work hours or during breaks.

You might also want to limit the amount of their attachments when they send personal emails.

Create personalised email signatures

Your company's email signature should contain company logos and key information.

This includes the company's name, official place, registration number, and other legal information.

A clear and memorable email signature can improve your employees' professional images in the industry.

Add a disclaimer to email signatures

Adding a disclaimer limits the legal liability of your company.

Beware that they may be ineffective and have little legal authority because recipients will likely notice them after reading the email.

Notify employees on how emails are monitored

The policy should inform employees that all corporate email will be monitored by human resources or the IT department.

Employers should encourage employees to sign the email policy. This shows that they've read it and consent to the use of email monitoring software.

Clarify disciplinary action for breaching policies

Have an appropriate disciplinary process in place to handle breaches. It should be applied fairly and consistently throughout your company. Only if the policy is properly implemented and enforced will it give legal protection.

Make sure managers are aware of the policy's terms and provide a point of contact for employees who have questions.

How to deal with email policy breaches at work

If you find any of your employees in breach of this policy, then you should take disciplinary action against them. You can dismiss an employee immediately in cases of serious breaches of this policy that amount to gross misconduct.

You can consider terminating their employment contract for the following reasons:

  • Sending confidential data or publicising company secrets without authorisation. 
  • Using corporate email to violate the law.
  • Sending out offensive or inappropriate emails to colleagues, customers, or business associates about gender, colour, age, sexual orientation or religious beliefs.

Get expert advice on email usage policy from Peninsula

Corporate email policies are essential for all businesses. This is to stop people from misusing information through company email addresses. Regardless of the number of employees, you need a detailed policy outlining your email etiquette.

Employers who don't have email policies may face high expenses in terms of money and reputation.

Peninsula offers 24/7 advice for contracts and documentation services which are available 365 days a year. Our team of experts can help you create policies, handbooks, and legal documents for your company.

Want to find out more? Contact us on 0800 028 2420 and book a free consultation with an HR consultant today.

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