Employers must clamp down on porn at work

The latest government proposals to stamp out extreme pornography could have a sig-nificant impact on employers, as more than 70% of online porn is accessed during working hours.

The new rules would further criminalise certain types of pornography and make it even more vital that employers ensure no such material exists on computer systems.

Under existing laws, companies and senior management can be held criminally liable for inappropriate images found in the workplace, although recent research shows less than half of UK employers are aware of this.

The new proposals are designed to clamp down on the most obscene and violent material, making it an offence to possess pornographic images of a certain nature.

Andy Churley, a specialist in preventing illegal images, at software firm PixAlert, said the problem is being compounded by the use of a new generation of digital devices such as cameras, USB keys and mobile phones.

Helen Goss, a partner at law firm Morgan Cole, said the new classification could put more employers at risk, because many firms do not see workplace porn as an important issue.

“It’s a massive problem and we always advise employers to have a very clear policy in place. It can open up employers to all sorts of discrimination and harassment claims, as well as criminal investigations if the pornographic material is illegal.

“In some organisations there’s a bit of a macho culture, where it’s still acceptable to look at this sort of thing. It is surprising how many workplaces still have this attitude,” she said.


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