What should your company’s internet usage policy include?

It is important for a business to have an internet usage policy in place that sets and establishes guidelines for employees to follow while using the internet at work. Such a policy should address issues including preventing software piracy, decreasing cybersecurity threats through malware and spyware, deterring misuse of employer-owned computers and network, and increasing employee productivity. Often, employers will include these policies within in the employee handbook. Whether the policy is included in the handbook or distributed as a stand-alone document, employers should have all employees sign a document stating they have received a copy of the policy or the employee handbook. 

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An internet usage policy should include the following:

  • A notification that all aspects of employee use of company-owned equipment can be monitored at any time and without notice.
  • A statement of the reasons for the policy.
  • A description of what constitutes improper use of employer-owned equipment.
  • A description of what constitutes proper employee computer use.
  • A statement prohibiting unauthorized encryption of information such as email on business computers.
  • A statement notifying employees that violating the policy can lead to disciplinary action.
  • A zero-tolerance policy for communication that is offensive, discriminatory, or constitutes harassment.
  • Depending on the nature of an employer’s business, a statement limiting the use of the internet.

Employers should consult legal counsel to ensure any internet usage and/or social media policies do not violate employee rights under state or federal law, including but not limited to the National Labor Relations Act.

If you have questions regarding your internet usage policy or need assistance in creating a policy, please contact a member of Barrett McNagny’s labor and employment team.

About the Author: 

Rachel Steinhofer concentrates her practice in the area of labor and employment. She works with business owners and human resources professionals on a variety of labor issues including employment discrimination, personnel policies and records, employee discipline and discharge, workplace privacy issues and wrongful discharge. She can be reached at (260) 423-8832. 

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