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With Cyber Monday looming, it’s time to reinforce your Internet policy

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in Employment Law,HR Management,Human Resources

The day after Thanksgiving has come to be known as Black Friday, when hordes descend on malls to get a jump on holiday shopping. It will be followed by Cyber Monday, the day when office workers nationwide clog company servers with a frenzy of online holiday shopping.

That's why it's important around this time of year to remind employees of your Internet usage policy.

Many employers choose not to vigorously enforce their policies limiting Internet use for business purposes only. But employment law experts say that’s a mistake.

A good policy emphasizes that:

  • Internet access is a business tool. It’s provided to improve productivity, not make it easier for employees to conduct their personal business.
  • Improper Internet use can compromise an organization’s information systems security.
  • The organization reserves the right to monitor employees’ computer and Internet use.
  • Limited personal use of the Internet is OK. However, misuse (for example, involving sexually explicit or harassing materials or downloading files that corrupt computer systems) will lead to discipline or termination.

Those policies will likely get a workout on Cyber Monday.

Responding to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey, 29% of workers said they have done holiday shopping online at work, and 27% of those spend one hour or more. Thirteen percent of respondents said they will spend two hours or more.

Nearly half of companies (47%) said they monitor employees’ Internet and e-mail use. This year’s survey included more than 2,400 employers and more than 3,100 workers.

Misuse of employer Internet resources isn’t just a problem during the holidays. Thirteen percent of workers said they spend one hour or more using the Internet each day for nonwork-related activities.

Other survey findings:

  • 21% of employers have fired someone for using the Internet for nonwork-related activities
  • 5% of employers have fired someone for holiday shopping online at work
  • 50% block employees from accessing certain web sites while at work

Tip: Download the HR Specialist’s sample Internet usage policy here and our computer usage policy here.

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