A written Internet Acceptable Use Policy and procedures behind it are designed to protect employers and workers from legal harm when using the Internet at work.
The employment contract must make it clear that disciplinary action can be taken if workers fail to comply with the requirements set out in the policy.
Legally incorporate the Internet use policy into each employee’s terms and conditions of employment, and refer to a document that contains the policy. This could be a staff handbook, IT policy, or new joiners manual.
Consider also external contractors or consultants using your business systems and networks to access the Internet. You should incorporate the Internet Acceptable Use Policy into the contract of engagement and refer to a document that contains the policy as outlined above.
Bring the policy to the attention of each worker who has Internet access, make sure it is reviewed regularly and provide regular staff training updates, as required.
The Policy should:
- state that employees must not discuss any aspects of the organisation’s business (e.g. on the Internet or in newsgroups) unless part of the employees job description;
- inform workers that the organisation reserves the right to monitor worker Internet use. Monitoring must be carried out in accordance with Data Protection and the Lawful Business Practice Regulations. Internet browsing should be monitored regularly, log reviewed, and filtering put in place to stop accessing inappropriate or illegal material;
- where personal Internet browsing is allowed, to specify the limits of use (e.g. during specific periods, such as in their lunch time);
- discourage the practice of downloading material which is unnecessary for business purposes;
- refer to the procedure for resolving complaints / disputes over Internet use;
- encourage workers only to go online when necessary;
Make sure to scan downloads or transmitted materials to/from the Internet. Install firewalls and any other software for workers to check files and attachments for viruses, and give them training.