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Employee Handbook: Internet Use Guidelines for Your Business
Internet Policies for Everyone
Do you have a formal policy?
Every business needs to have an Internet usage policy for their employees. Usually this policy is either created or vetted by the Human Resource Department and or the Legal Department of an organization.
However, not all businesses have those departments. Even small businesses need to have a well thought-out sensible use plan for their employees to follow regarding use of the Internet.
Here are some tips in developing Practices and Guidelines for Internet Usage at work
Appropriate Use and Content
While you need to encourage your employees to use the Internet effectively, you need to set boundaries as well.
Here are a few tips and ideas for your Internet use policy.
Employee Internet use should be relevant to their job related endeavors. Usage for personal email to and from friends should be allowed but be limited to an occasional use only.
Internet use is easily monitored and should not reflect badly on the company or the person using the Internet.
Employees may not use chat rooms, gaming sites, travel sites, shopping, stock trading, hate mail, hate/discrimination pornography etc. while at work. Anything considered prurient is objectionable material.
Remind your employees that your company is a non-discriminatory workplace and this includes the Internet. No material that is discriminatory, defamatory, harassing, insulting, offensive, pornographic, or obscene that an employee sends or causes to be sent from their work station or computer may result in termination.
Yes, do state it twice!
Violation of the above will result in discipline and or suspension of Internet access and possible dismissal.
You should have an on- screen warning that appears on the company computers and advises the user that these computers may be monitored at any time.
There are many software packages that allow you to monitor your employee's Internet use.
Downloading, Installing, and Retrieving Programs
Only work related programs should be considered for downloading, installation and retrieval. As programs may cause security problems, all programs should be approved by the owner or manager or IT person before they are downloaded, installed, or retrieved.
It is a serious infraction to download, install, or retrieve a program without the full security vetting of any such programs.
Using the Internet is a Privilege
While Internet usage is ubiquitous at most work places, it is a privilege and not a right in the work place. Any misuse may cause this privilege to be revoked. It is the right of the employer to monitor any and all use of the Internet. All of the company’s business while you are in the workplace should be conducted on the company’s computers and Internet access.
Internet Usage at Home for Work
Did you know that Internet use at home may be an hourly charge to the employer? That is why having a home use policy is advisable.
Hourly employees are not to use the Internet for work related issues unless they are at work and on the clock. There will be no extra hours or over-time pay earned by an employee because of their checking their work Email or performing other work activities while at home and using the Internet.
There is some precedence for an employee claiming extra work hours and receiving excessive payment for work Internet use at home.
Exempt employees may check their Email while at home and monitor other situations that require monitoring during their usually scheduled work time. However, the exempt employee is encouraged to perform their work Internet related duties while at work during their regularly scheduled times.
These are general guidelines to use when writing your own Internet usage policies. You may wish to include other methods of communications such as company phones or smart phones.
Further, if your company has paid to have proprietary software systems designed you need to specify that these systems are owned by the company and may not be used by the employee for any other reason than work.
Do you have such policies for all the tools your employees use? This may include files, documents, and templates. You should protect the forms and documents particular to your business.
Use this as a template to design your company’s handbook on computer use. Then have your best employee review the booklet. Then it would be advisable to have a lawyer with human resource background review and polish it.
Make sure the employee reads and then signs a document that says they have reviewed your company policies. Be sure to keep the signed document in their personnel file. Have extra copies of your policies available for the employees in the general work place.