Firms caught in web of net abuse at work

first_img Comments are closed. Firms caught in web of net abuse at workOn 10 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Asurvey by Personnel Today and KLegal reveals that misuse of the internet is thenumber one disciplinary problem facing firms today and employers are strugglingto enforce responsible use of the web at work. Quentin Reade reportsEmployers need to do more to tackle misuse of the internet after researchreveals that it causes more disciplinary problems than dishonesty, violence andhealth and safety breaches combined. A survey of 212 organisations by Personnel Today and KLegal finds employersreceived 358 disciplinary cases for internet and e-mail abuse last yearcompared to 326 cases for all the other three categories. The study shows most employers are aware of the problem. More than 90 percent of UK organisations have guidelines in place on use of the internet and 93per cent of these claim to communicate this policy to all staff. The study also shows that a fifth of firms now monitor employee use of theinternet on a daily basis and more than 90 per cent of these, comply with theData Protection Act by informing staff that their internet usage is underscrutiny. Stephen Levinson, a partner at KLegal said the research reveals employersare increasingly aware of the problem but still need to do more to avoid thecosts associated with disciplinary hearings and recruiting to fill positions ofsacked staff. He also believes employers need to improve the way they communicate theire-mail and internet use policies. Levinson added: “In addition, businesses would be well advised to givegreater prominence than they do at present to the sanctions employees may facefor e-mail and internet abuse.” He advised companies to explore the possibility of investing in improvedfirewalls and software to limit e-mail use and prevent staff from accessingcertain internet sites. Just over half of respondents have software in place preventing access toinappropriate websites and 71 per cent have firewalls to block inappropriatee-mails. One in 10 employers have a total ban on personal use of e-mail and 13 percent on personal use of the internet. Almost 30 per cent of employers do not allow employees to use e-mail forpersonal use during contracted working hours and 35 per cent ban employees fromusing the internet at work. Bill Dykes, HR director at Select Appointments, said his company has triedto strike a balance between trusting staff to use the internet responsibly andhaving checks in place to clamp down on individuals who abuse its usagepolicies. “Everybody (at Select) has a PC and is encouraged to use the internet.It’s a part of their job and an important business tool. We would strugglewithout it. But it’s important that everybody understands what they can andcan’t do,” he said. The survey finds that the most commonly disciplined cyber crimes areexcessive use of the internet followed by sending pornographic e-mails andaccessing pornographic websites. Nearly two thirds of internet-related dismissals (38 out of 61) and half ofthe disciplinary cases (169 out of 358) were for accessing or distributingpornographic and sexual material. Paul Pagliari, HR director at Scottish Water, urged companies to useinnovative methods to communicate their internet policies to staff on a dailybasis to prevent these sorts of issues becoming a problem. Scottish Water spells out its policies as a screensaver on all staffcomputers. “We monitor for overuse, abuse, or people looking at inappropriatesites. We get problems from time to time, but because we are clear and specificabout what is acceptable or not, we haven’t had any significant problems,”he said. Internet misuse survey: a media hitPersonnel Today and KLegal’s research into internet misuse at work grabbedthe headlines last week.Channel 4 news ran a feature on the survey, which shows thatinternet misuse is the number one disciplinary problem. Noel O’Reilly, editorof Personnel Today,told viewers that employees need to help staff to draw adistinction between acceptable behaviour at home and work.Many national newspapers, such as The Times and DailyTelegraph, radiostations and websites also covered the research.Monitoring: the survey’s findings– 20 per cent of employers monitor on a daily basis. More than 90 per centcomply with the Data Protection Act– 10 per cent monitor weekly– More than 10 per cent monitor monthly– About 12 per cent don’t monitor at all– More than 90 per cent of UKorganisations have guidelines onthe use of the internet at work 93 per cent of these claim to communicatethis policy to staff– There were 358 disciplinary cases of internet and e-mail abuse  reported by the 212 organisations surveyed– 53 per cent of respondents have software preventing access toinappropriate websites– 71 per cent have firewalls to block inappropriate e-mails– 60 per cent of internet dismissals and half of disciplinarycases involved distribution of porn or sexual materialSource: Personnel Today/KLegal Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more