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What's a sound policy on personal use of company computers?

by on
in The HR Specialist Forum

Question: “We’re updating our employee handbook. Does anyone have advice on setting a policy regulating employees’ personal use of our electronic equipment and resources, such as PCs and the Internet?”—David, NY

(Feel free to post policy language if it’s relatively brief. Web links to your handbook are welcome too—if your own policies permit it.)


We notify the employee in orientation prior to employment that :

"As an employee of _________, no reasonable expectation of privacy should be expected concerning emails, voice messages, telephone conversations and locker/desk searches. The employer asserts its right to listen to messages and conversations, read emails, perform searches, and other actions as deemed necessary by the administrator, as the company is legally liable for questionable material used by the employees. No personal phone calls or emails should be made from or with company communication resources. "

If you leave the policy open ended there will always be some that abuse the system. My personal opinion is that personal correspondence and personal business never be allowed on a company computer

Our policy states that our company owns the computers and that it should only be used for conducting District business.

The use of the District's electronic mail system shall not be used to solicit support for religious or political cause or affiliations. At no time will the electronic mail be used to create or distribute offensive messages. Specifically, messages containing racial slurs, sexual implications or innuendos, or any message that culd be interpreted as targeting any class that is established in the District's Non Harrassment Policy. In addition, electronic mail can not be used to download copyrighted material without prior authorization.

The district maintains the right and ability to inspect and review any data that is electronically stored on District computers or associated software. There should be no expectation on the part of the employee that any information on such District property will be considered private or proprietary in nature. Furthermore, the District does not have to give advance notice when reviewing or accessing any employees electronically stored documents.

Any employee who violates this policy or uses the electronic communication systems for any other improper purposes may be subject to discipline, up to and including termination at the discretion of District Management.

We had to sign our policy books.

very interesting, but I don't agree with you

Is there a typical company or organization of less than 500 employees that strictly prohibits personal phone calls or personal emails using the company provided internet and telephones? Such a policy sounds nearly impossible to enforce.


We use language very similar to what Dixie posted.

As a practical matter, we do allow employees to have personal phone calls and personal emails BUT there should be no expectation of privacy. We are very clear about the 'abuses' Dixie outlined, but don't care if your friend emails you about a lunch date. On the other hand, you should expect that anything on our computer is ours and you as an employee have no rights to it.

I think a good rule of thumb for any employee to remember is that if you don't want your boss to see the content of a personal email, that content is not appropriate for the workplace.

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