Employers often encounter instances of employee misuse of computers and other technology. A common response is to monitor employee computer use. However, issues of employee privacy rights and fairness are in play. When developing a policy, here are some considerations:
Give advance notice to employee about employer’s policy. To avoid invasion of privacy claims, warn employees in advance that the company reserves the right to monitor usage. Consider using an employee handbook disclosure or other signed acknowledgment
Specific terms to consider include:
<li>Business use only, or a more flexible variation allowing some personal use.
<li>No pornographic or other inappropriate websites.
<li>Company not liable for disclosure/misuse of personal information transmitted by employee over company technology.
<li>Employer may access and monitor email and internet use at any time without notice.
<li>Employer will keep copies of internet or email passwords, and that the existence of such passwords is not an assurance of the confidentiality of the communications.
An effective computer use policy will communicate the employer’s expectations, limit privacy rights, and give employees advance warning of the consequences of violations. As with any other employee policy, review with counsel for legal compliance is prudent.