As part of a broader internet usage policy, businesses should have an email policy at work that defines acceptable email usage along with social media, software access, and web browsing. This is because, while the speed, efficiency and convenience of email (and the internet in general) helps businesses stay connected and informed, being able to instantly message people and browse the web can lead to reduced productivity and even misconduct.
An effective email policy that helps employees understand their rights and restrictions when communicating online is good business practice. Rather than assuming employees will act responsibly, employers should clearly detail company expectations when it comes to email communication. A business email policy should outline unacceptable behaviour, and the consequences for non-compliance. It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure all employees are aware of their expectations.
As part of a broader internet usage policy, companies should have a separate business email policy that may include the following:
Restricting internet usage at work can be difficult, particularly as many employees will need to access various websites and social channels as a legitimate part of their role. It is fair, however, to expect employees to focus on work-related tasks during business hours, and every company should place guidelines and some restrictions on internet usage at work.
The primary purpose of these guidelines is to maintain productivity during work hours, but an internet usage policy should also protect employees from bullying or harassment and preserve the reputation of the company.
An internet usage policy may include:
An employee who does not conduct themselves online in a reasonable manner is not acting in good faith towards the business, and failing to follow clearly defined company policy may be considered misconduct.
Depending on the extent of the non-compliance, employee behaviour over email, or online generally, may in some cases be considered serious misconduct. This might include situations where employees share harmful information about the company or spread personal information outside work hours.
It is important to determine whether an employee action would be considered misconduct or serious misconduct before proceeding with the correct disciplinary procedure. A workplace relations advisor can assist with the correct process to follow.
For advice on how to implement an email and internet usage policy in the workplace, contact Employsure on 0800 675 700.