With the right kind of policy, employers have the right to monitor employees' e-mail at work, employees' use of the Internet, and employees' use of company computers.
Every employer needs to have a detailed policy regarding use of company computers and resources accessed with computers, such as e-mail, Internet, and the company intranet, if one exists.
Each employee must sign - it can be made a condition of continued employment.
Define computers, e-mail, Internet, and so on as broadly as possible, with specifics given, but not limited to such specifics.
Remind employees that the company owns all such systems and that that is why it is reserving the right to monitor any and all usage of the systems.
Remind employees that when they use company Internet access and e-mail systems, the company's computers record all incoming and outgoing transmissions of files, e-mail messages, and other data, as well as store copies of e-mail messages received and sent through company systems.
Define the prohibited actions as broadly as possible, with specifics given, but not limited to such actions.
Remind employees that not only job loss, but also civil liability and criminal prosecution may result from certain actions.
Company needs to reserve the right to monitor all computer usage at all times for compliance with the policy.
Policy should remind employees that it has the right to inspect an employee's computer, HD, floppy disks, and other media at any time.
Reserve the right to withdraw access to computers, Internet, and e-mail if the employee abuses such access.
Make sure employees know they have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their use of the company's electronic resources, since it is all company property and to be used only for job-related purposes.
For a sample computer, e-mail, and Internet policy, click here.
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