- The Employer expects all its electronic and computer facilities to be used in an effective and professional manner and encourages all employees to develop the skills necessary to do so. These facilities are provided by The Employer at its own expense for its own business purposes to assist its employees in carrying out their duties effectively. It is the responsibility of each employee to ensure that this technology is used for proper business purposes and in a manner that does not compromise The Employer or its employees in any way.
- This policy applies to the use of The Employer’s technology whilst at work and also when using The Employer’s technology from outside work e.g., when dialling in from home or using a laptop when away on business. This policy document is to be read in conjunction with the disciplinary procedure. If you have any questions about the application of this policy, please contact your line manager.
- Misuse of the internet or email can expose both employees and The Employer to legal or financial liability. For example, employees may enter into unintended contracts, breach copyright or licensing arrangements, incur liability for defamation or harassment or introduce viruses into the system. This policy is designed to safeguard both employees and The Employer from such liabilities. It is important that all employees read it carefully and ensure that any use of the internet or email is in accordance with its terms.
- This policy applies to employees of The Employer, workers and other contractors who have access to The Employer’s computer systems. Any reference to an employee is a reference to a worker or contractor also. It also applies to personal use of email or the internet where individuals identify themselves as associated with The Employer. The Employer may occasionally modify this policy to take account of changes in technology, law and best practice and will notify employees in writing of any change.
USE OF COMPUTERS AND EQUIPMENT
- The Employer may provide computers, laptops, and other equipment for use by employees for business purposes only.
- Employees are responsible for the safe keeping of equipment issued to them and for the physical and virtual security of the data and software accessed on it or stored thereon.
- Although the primary reason for allowing employees access to email is to help perform duties more effectively, occasional, and essential personal use of email will be allowed provided that it does not interfere with the performance of work duties.
- Employees must be aware that email is not an informal communication tool but has the same authority as any other communication to and from The Employer and should be regarded as published information.
- Email, just like any other form of communication, should reflect the highest professional standards at all times. Employees should keep messages brief and to the point, ensure that an appropriate heading is inserted in the subject field and that they check the spelling and grammar before sending. They should also double check the recipient before pressing the send button – not only can it be embarrassing if a message is sent to the wrong person, but it can also result in the unintentional disclosure of confidential information about The Employer.
- Employees should not transmit anything in an email or fax message that they would not be comfortable writing (or someone else reading) in a letter or a memorandum. Emails leave a retrievable record. Even when employees think that information has been deleted, it can remain on computers and on The Employer’s back-up system. Emails can be recovered as evidence in court proceedings or reviewed by regulators. Electronic messages are admissible as evidence in legal proceedings and have been used successfully in libel and discrimination cases.
- Employees should never assume that internal or external messages are necessarily private and confidential, even if marked as such. The internet is not a secure means of communication, and third parties may be able to access or alter messages which have been sent or received. Employees should not send any information in an email which they would not be happy being publicly available. Matters of a sensitive or personal nature should not be transmitted by email unless absolutely unavoidable and if so, should be clearly marked in the message header as highly confidential. The confidentiality of internal communications can only be ensured if they are delivered personally by hand.
- Internet messages should be treated as non-confidential. Anything sent through the internet passes through a number of different computer systems all with different levels of security. The confidentiality of messages may be compromised at any point along the way unless the messages are encrypted.
- Employees must not download, send (or store) offensive, demeaning or disruptive messages or images by fax or email. This includes, but is not limited to, messages inconsistent with The Employer’s equal opportunities policy and includes without limitation any sexist or racist material or any material which could be offensive on the grounds of, without limitation, a person’s disability, gender reassignment, their age, their sexual orientation, their marital or civil partnership status or their religion or belief.
- Employees should therefore not place on the system or send any message or image which could be regarded as personal, potentially offensive, or frivolous to any recipient or to any other person (even if not sent to them).
- If employees receive an email or a fax containing material that is offensive or inappropriate to the office environment, then they must delete it immediately. Under no circumstances should such mail or fax be forwarded either internally or externally.
Access to the internet during working time should be limited to matters relating to employment and be for business purposes only. Any unauthorised use of the internet is strictly prohibited. Unauthorised use includes but is not limited to:-
- Visiting sites, connecting, posting, or downloading any information unrelated to their employment and in particular pornographic or other offensive or illegal material;
- Engaging in computer hacking and other related activities;
- Attempting to disable or compromise security of information contained on The Employer’s computers;
- Perpetration of any form of fraud or software, music or film piracy;
- Sending offensive or harassing material to other users;
- Downloading of commercial software or any copyrighted materials belonging to third parties, unless this is covered or permitted under a commercial agreement or other such licence;
- Hacking into unauthorised areas;
- Publishing defamatory and/or knowingly false material about The Employer, colleagues and/or customers on social networking sites;
- Revealing confidential information about The Employer in any personal online posting, upload, or transmission; and
- Introducing any form of malicious software into The Employer’s network.
- Postings placed on the internet may display The Employer’s address. For this reason, Employees should make certain before posting information that the information reflects the standards and policies of The Employer. Under no circumstances should information of a confidential or sensitive nature be placed on the internet.
- Information posted or viewed on the internet may constitute published material. Therefore, reproduction of information posted or otherwise available over the internet may be done only by express permission from the copyright holder. Employees must not act in such a way as to breach copyright or the licensing conditions of any internet site or computer programme.
- Employees must not commit The Employer to any form of contract through the internet.
- If employees produce, collect and/or process business-related information in the course of their work, the information remains the property of The Employer. This includes such information stored on third-party websites such as webmail’s service providers.
- Access to the internet during working time should be limited to matters relating to employment and be for business purposes only. Any unauthorised use of the internet is strictly prohibited. Unauthorised use includes but is not limited to:-
- Only authorised software is to be installed on The Employer’s equipment. Employees must not install any other software on The Employer’s computers without prior written permission from the IT department.
- All software used on The Employer’s computers must be properly licensed. If unlicensed software is found on The Employer’s computers, the licence fee must be paid and a fine can be imposed. If the unlicensed software is not authorised by The Employer the employee will be personally liable for the licence fee and fine. The Employer reserves the right without prior notice to remove any unauthorised software and delete all non-company data and files from its computers.
- All Instant Messaging, Blogging and activity on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Myspace, or any other social media site is strictly prohibited during working hours and on The Employer’s computers. Private blogs must not contain any reference to The Employer or its’ activities.
- The Employer operates or may operate in the future accounts on social media websites for the promotion of activities and events and as a method of communication. Any official account on any social media website may only be set up with written consent from your line manager. Only authorised employees may use these accounts to post online and access to the account by unauthorised employees is strictly prohibited. All information posted on the internet must comply with confidentiality and data protection policies and copyright laws must be respected, with references or sources cited appropriately
- Any employee who becomes aware of inappropriate or distasteful social networking activity should maketheir line manager aware of this as soon as possible.
- Employees must not allow other employees to use their password. If it is anticipated that someone may need access to an employee’s confidential files in their absence, they should arrange for the files to be copied to somewhere where that person can access them or give them access to the relevant personal folders.
- When using The Employer’s email system, be vigilant. Computer viruses are often sent by email and can cause significant damage to The Employer’s information systems.
- Any files or software downloaded from the internet or brought from home must be virus checked before use. Employees should not rely on their own pc to virus check any such programmes but should refer direct totheir line manager/ IT department. If you suspect that a file may contain a virus, do not open it and contact your line manager/ IT department immediately.
- Employees must not run any ‘.exe’ files. These should be deleted immediately upon receipt without being opened.
INTERCEPTION OF COMMUNICATIONS
- The Employer reserves the right to monitor, intercept and read any internal or external email or fax or to listen to or record any telephone conversation for the purposes of monitoring and record keeping to establish facts, to establish compliance with regulatory or self-regulatory procedures, to prevent or detect crime, to investigate or detect the unauthorised use of The Employer’s telecommunication system or to ascertain compliance with The Employer’s practices or procedures. The Employer may also monitor, intercept, read, listen, or record communications to check whether communications are relevant to the business. The Employer also reserves the right to monitor internet usage to check compliance with obligations as set out above.
- The Employer has a right to protect the security of its systems, check that use of the system is legitimate, investigate suspected wrongful acts and otherwise comply with legal obligations imposed upon it.
- The Employer also reserves the right to read employees’ emails to check for business emails whilst they are absent or out of the office. The Employer may also access Employees’ voicemail to check for business calls whilst they are absent or out of the office. It may therefore be unavoidable that some personal messages will be read or heard.
Where appropriate, The Employer may provide Employees with a mobile telephone and ‘hands free’ equipment sets for usage in vehicles. This equipment remains, at all times, the property of The Employer and must be returned immediately upon request and/or upon termination of employment. Employees provided with mobile telephones must comply with the following rules:
- It is strictly prohibited to use mobile telephones whilst driving in a ‘handheld’ position. The Employer adopts a zero-tolerance approach to this and noncompliance may result in disciplinary action, up to and including summary dismissal, being taken against you.
- All Employees provided with mobile telephones should use the telephone predominantly for work related purposes Is private usage allowed? All usage should be reasonable and sensible.
- Mobile telephones should not be used abroad without the prior written permission of your line manager who must sanction the lifting of the ‘call barring’ facility. All personal calls made abroad, and all work-related calls made abroad (except where prior approval has been sought and given) must be paid for by the employee.
- Where appropriate, The Employer may provide Employees with a mobile telephone and ‘hands free’ equipment sets for usage in vehicles. This equipment remains, at all times, the property of The Employer and must be returned immediately upon request and/or upon termination of employment. Employees provided with mobile telephones must comply with the following rules:
BREACHES OF THIS POLICY
- The Employer considers this policy to be extremely important. If an employee is found to be in breach of this policy, then they will be disciplined in accordance with the disciplinary procedure. In certain circumstances, breach of this policy may be considered gross misconduct resulting in immediate termination of employment without notice or payment in lieu of notice. In addition, or as an alternative, The Employer may withdraw internet or email access.
E-MAIL USER GUIDELINES
Style and language:
- All emails should be addressed and signed off in a polite manner i.e. Dear/ Hello, Regards.
- Emails do not always translate the emotion or feelings that were intended. Therefore, clear concise language should be used, and a review conducted to ensure that the message would not be misinterpreted.
- Do not use slang or expletives. This is not acceptable business language.
- If communicating a difficult issue, it may be appropriate to save as a draft and return to the email later to check the context and message given.
- Lower case should be used in the majority of communications. Capital letters may be used to highlight or accentuate a point but may be interpreted as aggressive.
- ‘Urgent stamps’ should only be used if they reflect the nature of the communication.
- Check your email inbox at least once a day for new messages. Please ensure that you delete any unwanted emails, always reply with history, as the ongoing dialogue will be stored in one place rather than on a number of emails. Do not repeat an email request. It may be appropriate to follow up in person or via the telephone.
- Conduct regular ‘housekeeping’: delete out-dated items and those items that have been superseded by later messages.
- Manage the communication contained in emails. Remember they can be stored and printed and used as documentary evidence in libel, harassment, or disciplinary cases.
- Remember data protection laws and only include suitable and relevant information regarding individuals.
- Ensure you title all emails and that this accurately reflects the content of the message.
- If you are sending an attachment, explain what it is in the document
- Check the attachment prior to sending it to ensure it is the correct document.
- Prior to sending an email, check the distribution list, re-read it, use spell check and ensure that it is conveying the correct messages to the readers.
- If you have been sent an email with an attachment and you are unsure what it contains, clarify this with the sender. This is particularly important if it is an .exe file. Do not open this file without checking its content as this can result in importing a virus into The Employer’s network with serious consequences where disciplinary action may be taken.
- Never open email attachments where the sender is unknown to you, or where the subject matter is nothing to do with our business. Emails with curious messages or enticing subjects are used to encourage recipients to open email attachments that trigger viruses.
- Do not open or respond to any ‘chain letters’.
- Style and language:
COMPUTER/ LAPTOP USER GUIDELINES
- Laptops/workstations must be protected by passwords or other access control methods.
- Back up takes place automatically when logged onto the server.
- Ensure that the virus detection software is on your laptop/workstation. If new updates are downloaded follow instructions to re-boot your system.
- Should you have had to load software from a diskette, CD Rom or other external source, it must be checked for viruses by the virus checker on your system.
- If you have to leave your laptop/workstation unattended, ensure that it is either password locked or in the case of a laptop out of sight and locked away.
- Laptops must not be left unattended in cars, as they are specifically uninsured in this situation.
- Do not use your laptop/workstation for any other purpose than that which it was supplied for. It is not appropriate to utilise your laptop or workstation for personal use such as playing games. Use of the internet should be for business purpose only.
- The theft or loss of your laptop should be reported immediately to your manager.
- Laptop users who utilise battery power should discharge the battery completely once a week.
- Please do not share your password with anyone.
- Make your password easy to remember but difficult to guess. In particular avoid any personal references such as car number plates; repeated characters or recognisable words. Good passwords are a mixture of letters, numbers, and punctuation characters.
- Ensure that you use a screen saver for when you may wish to leave your workstation unattended for a short time. This should be of an appropriate nature – professional – no pin-ups or offensive material.
- Do not allow anyone else to use your laptop or workstation whilst you are still logged on. Remember that you are responsible for all actions, which are carried out, under your user account.
- Remember to close down your laptop/workstation at the end of the working day.
- If your virus checker or a fellow employee advises that a mail attachment has a virus, contact our service provider immediately, and telephone the person who sent you the message to advise them that their computer has a virus infection.
- If you are told that you have a virus on your laptop/workstation then you should contact our service provider immediately.
- If your laptop/workstation behaves irregularly by running slower than normal or displays odd characters or messages, changes locations etc then please contact our service provider.
SOCIAL MEDIA USER GUIDELINES
- Change the privacy settings on your profile so that only people you have accepted as friends can see your content.
- Review who is on your ‘friends list’ on your personal profile. In most situations you should not accept friend requests from clients or customers.
- Ensure personal blogs have clear disclaimers that the views expressed by the author are theirs alone and do not represent the views of The Employer. Make your writing clear that you are speaking on behalf of yourself and not on behalf of The Employer. Ensure that any information published on the internet complies with The Employer’s confidentiality and data protection policies.
- Ensure that you are always respectful towards The Employer, other Employees and workers, clients, and customers. You should be aware that any disrespectful comments might be seen as libellous.
- The Employer trademarks and logos may not be used without written consent.
- Be aware that in and out of work, at all time, you are an ambassador for The Employer. Any actions captured via images, posts or comments online can reflect on The Employer.