With internet access, you can be certain that employees will check their personal emails and visit internet sites unrelated to work whilst in the office. While it is difficult, if not impossible, to stop employees doing this we can take steps now to protect you and your business from the negative consequences of improper employee internet use. We can prepare an Internet Usage Policy for your place of business.

Think your employees are sensible enough not to do anything whilst online that could harm your business?

We urge you to think again because this is exactly the sort of thing that has happened to businesses.

Consider the following scenario that all started with a missing lunch:

Employee P sends an email to everyone in the office asking if anyone had seen or even taken her lunch. Employee Q replies stating that P’s lunch appears to be in another office fridge and asks P if she simply misplaced it. Prior to this, P and Q were not getting along with each other and the email exchange, which at this stage remained just between P and Q, soon turned into attacks about each others personal lives that even included allegations of sexual impropriety. Either P or Q then forward the whole email exchange to Employee Z.

Employee Z finds the exchange so humourous that he decides to send it on to all of his friends inside and outside the company. Z’s friends also find it humourous so they continue to forward it on to all of their friends and so on and so on until it came to the attention of the national press.

Preventative Action

The risks you and your business face from not implementing a robust Internet Usage Policy include, but are certainly not limited to the following;

Without an Internet Usage Policy, the community, and any relevant law enforcement agencies, might believe that you and/or your business expressly or impliedly sanction what your employees have done online. At the very least, this will take public attention away from the positive aspects of your business.

If any of the websites or emails viewed on company computers contained material that is discriminatory, defamatory or pornographic (paedophilic content is of particular concern) you and/or your business may become involved in a legal battle or even a criminal investigation that should not concern you.

A robust Internet Usage Policy in place before the incident occurs can help:

  1. Deter people from making a legal claim against you or your business; and
  2. Extricate you or your business from a legal claim or criminal investigation as quickly as possible.

We also recommend that you include clauses in your business’ Anti-Discrimination and Equal Opportunity Policies which expressly address email and electronic messaging

Joe Kafrouni
Legal Practitioner Director
Kafrouni Lawyers

Disclaimer

The information provided by Kafrouni Lawyers is intended to provide general information and is not legal advice or a substitute for it. Business people should always consult their own legal advisors to discuss their particular circumstances. Kafrouni Lawyers makes no warranties or representations regarding the information and exclude any liability which may arise as a result of the use of this information. This information is the copyright of Kafrouni Lawyers.

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