E-Mail, Net abuse are ‘sackable’ offenses

By : |September 2, 2002 0

LONDON: E-mail and Internet abuse, including the downloading of pornography, has overtaken theft of office supplies and lying to the boss as the top disciplinary action reported in the work place, a new study said. More disciplinary cases have been brought against employees for violating company e-mail and Internet policies than for acts of dishonesty, violence or health and safety breaches, according to a survey by KLegal, a law firm associated with global accounting group KPMG, and Personnel Magazine.

KLegal and Personnel Magazine compiled the survey in June, polling 212 UK companies. Survey participants reported taking action in 358 disciplinary cases related to e-mail and Internet abuses compared to 326 cases for incidents of violence, dishonesty and safety breaches.

The survey is the latest evidence that corporate chiefs are cracking down on employees’ e-mail and Internet privileges in an effort to ward off potential lawsuits and damage to the company’s image. In July, computer and printer maker Hewlett-Packard Co. suspended approximately 150 staff in Britain and Ireland and dismissed two for inappropriate use of company e-mail.

Twenty percent of the firms polled said they monitor employee e-mail and Internet usage on a daily basis. In a similar survey published by KLegal 18 months ago, 11 percent said they checked on employees on a daily basis. The top three Internet-related abuses were excessive personal use of the company’s Internet or e-mail connection, sending pornographic e-mails and accessing pornographic Web sites, the survey said.

There was only one reported case involving racial harassment through e-mail, a matter that resulted in a dismissal, the survey said. The survey also revealed that employees are nearly ten times more likely to be dismissed for exchanging pornographic e-mails than they would be for sending an e-mail that contains damaging information about the company.

© Reuters

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