Workers face sack over e-mail and internet misuse

More employees could be fired over ‘kiss and tell’ or other inappropriate
e-mails, according to new research.

The survey by the Work Foundation shows that employers, concerned over ICT
abuse, are increasingly turning to ‘Big Brother’ technology to monitor employee
e-mail and internet use and will sack staff breaking the rules.

According to the survey results, 75 per cent of 262 responding organisations
have or are working on internet use policies. Of those, 66 per cent monitor
website access, 65 per cent monitor incoming e-mail messages, and 43 per cent
monitor e-mails for inappropriate words or content. Nearly a quarter would
dismiss an employee for breaching ‘netiquette’ policies.

Most organisations communicate their policies to staff via policy documents,
or on e-mail messages. However, only 49 per cent of organisations tell new
employees about their policies as part of induction.

Theo Blackwell of The Work Foundation, stressed that clarifying acceptable
internet and e-mail use should be an integral part of employers’ policies.

"Legally, users do need to be informed when content is monitored. This
includes instances when software is used for filtering and blocking. However,
organisations must reconcile this against the expectation of privacy and
workplace trust and try to strike a balance between rights and

The study reveals that while most respondents inform their employees that
they are being monitored, about one in 10 do not.

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