Welcome to Part 4 of “What to include in an Employee Handbook”. Part 3 looked at how to incorporate into the Employee Handbook a policy that addresses correct protocol for Email Use in the workplace, whereas today’s addition will discuss how to monitor the use of Internet and Social Media amongst employees.

Obligations for use of Internet and Social Media

First of all, the policy on use of the Internet and social media by staff of the Business should clarify that appropriate use is permitted and encouraged, particularly when such use supports the goals and objectives of the Business. Have your employment lawyer insert into the Internet and social media policy of the Employee Handbook that they will do the following:

  • comply with all applicable legislation;
  • use the Internet and social media in an acceptable and appropriate manner;
  • maintain password security; and
  • do not create unnecessary risks to the Business by their misuse of the Internet.

Misuse of the Internet and social media can have a negative impact upon productivity and the reputation of the Business, which is why it needs to be regulated under the employee handbook and employment contracts.

What conduct should be prohibited?

Just as including employees’ obligations is important, highlighting prohibitions is arguably even more important. Some of the important prohibitions you should include in your Internet and social media use policy include the following:

  • visiting Internet sites that contain obscene, hateful, pornographic or otherwise illegal material;
  • using the Business’s computers to perpetrate any form of fraud, or software, film or music piracy;
  • using the Internet or social media to send offensive or harassing material to other users;
  • breaching copyright law or intellectual property rights;
  • any activity that is illegal under any local, state, federal or international law;
  • burdening the Business systems, network and/or social media in a manner which, in the reasonable opinion of the Business, causes unnecessary congestion;
  • using the Business systems, network and/or social media for personal gain;
  • downloading commercial software or any copyrighted materials belonging to third parties, unless this download is covered or permitted under a commercial agreement or licence;
  • hacking into unauthorised areas;
  • publishing defamatory and/or knowingly false material about the Business, your colleagues and/or our customers on social networking sites, ‘blogs’, ‘wikis’ and any online publishing format;
  • revealing confidential information about the Business in an online posting, upload or transmission – including but not limited to financial information and information relating to our customers, business plans, policies, staff and/or internal discussions;
  • undertaking activities that waste staff effort or networked resources; and
  • introducing any form of malicious software into the corporate network.

Addressing Intellectual Property

Make sure that the policy touches on the usual intellectual property concerns to ensure that all employees understand that any business-related information that is produced, collected or processed in the course of their work remains the property of the Business. This should include information stored on third-party websites such as webmail service providers and social networking and social media sites.

The Business’s Internet-related resources are provided for business purposes and, as such, the Business maintains the right to monitor the volume of Internet and network traffic, together with the Internet sites visited. As the business owner, you will want to retain the right to block the Internet on your own Business systems in any manner you see fit.

Conclusion

If you find that a staff member has failed to comply with this policy, the Employee Handbook will need to explain any disciplinary procedures that you, as the employer, plan on imposing. For assistance in reviewing or drafting the various provisions that make up the Employee Handbook, contact LegalVision on 1300 544 755 and speak with one of our experienced employment lawyers today. 

Lachlan McKnight

Next Steps

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