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Taking software home 'worse than fiddling expenses'

Survey: Taking company software home and personal surfing at work are both seen as unacceptable behaviour by most employees

More than three quarters of employees believe taking company software home for personal use is a worse offence than fiddling travel expenses or stealing stationery, according to research published on Monday.

The survey into workplace attitudes to ethical conduct found that over 80 percent of staff believe that appropriating software from work and installing it at home was 'unacceptable' behaviour.

The report, Ethics at Work, conducted by the Institute of Business Ethics, found that surfing the net for pleasure during work time was also frowned on, with around three-quarters of respondents describing it as unacceptable.

The IBE claims that companies can't assume that employees automatically know what behaviour is acceptable, and should put clear policies in place to avoid inappropriate behaviour getting out of hand. "What is tolerated as petty can easily escalate to become far more serious," the report stated.

Other activities deemed as unethical or irresponsible included taking a 'sicky' after a work party, favouring friends when awarding contracts, and charging personal entertainment to expenses.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA) was recently criticised for hyping the issue of unlicensed software after the organisation called for more government legislation to protect its members, which include Microsoft and Apple.