Employers get tough on Internet misuse

Almost half of employers would fire staff for misuse of email and Internet during working hours, according to a survey

Sending inappropriate emails and using the Internet during working hours is likely to result in dismissal or suspension of offending staff in almost of half the cases, according to a survey carried out on behalf of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), a professional body for the Human Resources industry.

The survey, which was unveiled at the HR Software Show in London's Olympia conference centre on Thursday, revealed that 94 percent of companies have an official policy for Internet and email use and 60 percent of them have experienced problems because of misuse.

Unsurprisingly, public sector workers are less likely to be fired for misuse of communications technologies than their private sector counterparts. According to the survey, 45 percent of offenders in the private sector are sacked, compared with 36 percent for the public sector offenders.

Richard Goff, author of the survey said in a statement: "email and Internet abuse remains a real concern for most organisations, particularly the legal ramifications over misuse. It is encouraging therefore to see such a high proportion with email and Internet policies in place."

But Goff warned employers not to go overboard when checking up on staff. "Internet and email have become essential communication tools and there are times when using them for matters unrelated to work is necessary," he said. "Excessive monitoring can stifle creativity and, more importantly, trust." Goff said trust is essential for maintaining a good relationship between employer and staff.

Interestingly, the survey found that the most common use for HR software was simply to keep track of employee absences.

A full version of the survey will be available, free of charge, from 27 June on the CIPD Web site. Registration to the site is required.


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