As an employer, you should plan to implement an Acceptable Use Policy if you plan to initiate an office monitoring solution. You should have a clear and absolute Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) in place that is made known to all the employees.
A well written employee handbook should always include an acceptable use policy relating to the employee computer use. The policy should include references to acceptable use of chat and instant messaging, blogging, bulk email, content filtering and email retention. Over half of businesses are sued by past employees, with the standard fine of $250,000. A well written employee policy handbook can usually resolve disputes before they start protecting you from possible legal action.
You should always consult with experts who have done the research. You need to protect your business with policies written by experts. There are companies like Template Zone that have done the research for you and already have the documents laid out for you, saving you time and money. See what Template Zone can do for you.
The policy should be a joint effort of HR and Management and should have the following traits clearly outlined:
- Is in writing
- Is clearly communicated to all employees
- Sets out permissible uses of both e-mail and Internet
- Specifies the prohibited/inappropriate uses
- States what monitoring, if any, will take place
- Sets out acceptable on-line behavior
- Stipulates unauthorized access areas
- Sets out privacy rules in relation to other users
- Sets out privacy rules in relation to employer's right to monitor and the nature and extent of such monitoring
- Stipulates possible disciplinary consequences for breach of rules
- Set out any restrictions e.g. size/type of e-mail attachments that can be sent or received
- Set out the reasons for monitoring, the extent of monitoring and the means used
- Set out any restrictions on material that can be viewed or copied, giving examples of types of material
- Outline how the policy is enforced and penalties that exist for a breach of policy.
If you think your company doesn't need an office policy manual – You May be Wrong:
- According to a U.S. Department of Justice study, the number of employment discrimination and harassment cases filed per year since 1990 has tripled
- The average range of settlement costs is between $150,000-$250,000
- Compliance and ethics violations can disrupt your business, create a negative workplace atmosphere, lead to higher employee turnover and damage your business' reputation
- According to a survey by International Data Corp (IDC), 30 to 40% of internet access is spent on non-work related browsing, and a staggering 60% of all online purchases are made during working hours
A Sample Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)
(Your Company Name) is providing you with Internet email and/or Internet access. Use of this tool is governed by the following Acceptable Internet Use Policy. If a user violates any of the acceptable use provisions outlined in this document, his/her account will be terminated and future access will be denied. Some violations may also constitute a criminal offense and may result in legal action. Any user violating these provisions or any applicable state or federal laws is subject to loss of access privileges and any other disciplinary actions as determined necessary by (Your Company Name).
- All use of the Internet must be limited to support of or provide education or research for activities directly relevant to an employees job description and be consistent with (Your Company Name) Company policy.
- Must be consistent with the rules deemed appropriate to any network being used or accessed.
- Unauthorized use of copyrighted material is prohibited.
- Accessing, publishing, downloading, or transmitting threatening, obscene, or other material deemed socially unacceptable by (Your Company Name) operating standards is strictly prohibited.
- Distribution of material protected by trade secret and patents is prohibited.
- Use for personal or commercial activities is not acceptable.
- Product advertisement or political lobbying is prohibited.
- Streaming or downloading audio or video from Internet sites is strictly prohibited.
- Access to chat rooms is not consistent with company policy.
- Transmitting computer viruses or accessing restricted Internet sites or other computer systems is strictly forbidden.
- Internet access is a privilege, not a right.
- Unacceptable usage will result in cancellation of the account, and possible disciplinary proceedings.
- Be polite; do not use vulgar or obscene language.
- Use caution when revealing your address or phone number. Do not reveal the e-mail address of others without their consent.
- Close the Internet connection when you are not using it. Do not download or transmit large files, request IS to transport these for you. Large file transfers cause traffic jams and slow down or restrict access for others.
- Electronic mail is not guaranteed to be private.
- Do not intentionally disrupt the network or other users.
- Abide by generally accepted rules of network etiquette.
- If you identify a security problem, notify the system administrator immediately.
- Do not show or identify a security problem to others.
- Do not reveal your account password or allow another person to use your account.
- Do not use another individual’s account.
- Attempts to log on as another user will result in cancellation of privileges.
- Any user identified as a security risk or having a history of problems with other computer systems may be denied access.
- User must notify the system administrator of any change in account information.
- User may be occasionally required to update registration, password and account information in order to continue Internet access.
- (Your Company Name) maintains and has access to all e-mail and user Internet access requests, and will monitor messages and access as necessary to assure efficient performance and appropriate use.
- Vandalism and/or harassment will result in the cancellation of the offending user’s account.
- Vandalism is defined as any malicious attempt to harm or destroy data of another user, the Internet or other networks. This includes, but is not limited to, creating and/or uploading computer viruses.
- Harassment is defined as the persistent annoyance of another user or the interference in another user’s work. This includes, but is not limited to, the sending of unwanted mail.
- Any user violating these provisions, applicable state and federal laws, or posted company rules is subject to loss of network privileges and any other disciplinary options as determined by (Your Company Name), as well as criminal prosecution.
All terms and conditions as stated in this document are applicable to all users of the network. This policy is intended to be illustrative of the range of acceptable and unacceptable uses of the Internet facilities of (Your Company Name) and is not necessarily exhaustive.
I understand and will abide by the (Your Company Name) Acceptable Internet Use Policy. I further understand that any violation of this Acceptable Internet Use Policy is unethical and may constitute a criminal offense. Should I commit any violation, my access privileges may be revoked, disciplinary action and/or appropriate legal action may be taken.
User Signature: _________________________________________