Staff internet abuse tops discipline table

E-mail and internet misuse by staff has become the biggest
disciplinary problem for employers.

An exclusive survey by Personnel Today and KLegal shows that employers have taken
disciplinary action on more occasions in the past year against staff for
misusing the web than for dishonesty, violence and health and safety breaches
combined.

The survey of 212 employers finds that there were 358 disciplinary cases for
internet and e-mail use compared to a combined total of 326 cases for the other
three categories.

It reveals that the most common cyber crimes were excessive personal use of
the internet, sending pornographic e-mails and accessing pornographic websites.

Stephen Levinson, employment law partner at KLegal, warned that employers
must do more than just draw up a policy on internet misuse and urged companies
to communicate their policies to staff on a regular basis.

"E-mail and internet abuse at work remains a thorn in the side of
businesses. While companies appear to be making more efforts to deal with it,
it does not appear to be working particularly well," he said.

The research shows the majority of employers are facing problems tackling
the issue, despite 93 per cent of employers having policies on internet use.

A fifth of employers are now monitoring internet and email use on a daily
basis compared to 11 per cent 18 months ago.

More than 90 per cent of companies inform staff that they monitor with less
than 10 per cent breaking law by monitoring secretly.

Scottish Water’s HR director Paul Pagliari believes HR needs to work with IT
to develop innovative ways to warn staff about their policies and restrictions.

All computers at Scottish Water have a screensaver that tells staff about
the company’s policy and where they can get a copy of it.

Nearly two thirds of e-mail/internet related dismissals (38 out of 61) and
half of the disciplinary cases (169 out of 358) were for accessing or
distributing pornographic material.

By Quentin Reade

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