The majority of businesses who use email in the work place take advantage of the benefits such as speed of use and ease of communication. With this ease employees can easily start to feel a sense of informality when using work email so regularly, and misuse the address for personal reasons that aren’t always related to the job, or for matters concerning the company. A lot of the time this is done without thinking and in most cases does not cause a problem.
However in many circumstances email misuse can spiral out of control and impact the reputation of your business. It is important as an employer that employees are made fully aware that their work email address should be used only for work related matters. Email and Internet Policy should set out that employees must never use their email address to: Place personal orders for goods or services; sell their own private goods or services or make complaints about or to any third parties. In some circumstances employee misuse of work email can also include ‘work banter’ between colleagues which can be seen as discrimination or bullying by others in the workplace. This is where a line needs to be drawn.
Failing to abide to these rules an employee runs the risk of giving the impression they are acting for or on behalf of their employer. Employees need to be aware of these rules to protect your position as a business and avoid accusation of entering into contracts with third parties. If problems or repercussions do occur as a result of employees breaching this rule then you have the right to treat the situation as a disciplinary matter.
Employers should be aware that they have the legal right to monitor employee emails under the code of practice issued by The Information Commissioner’s office. Employers should make all employees aware of this as well as set out a policy stating the purpose of checking emails, methods of doing so, what is deemed inappropriate use and the consequences they could face. It is also advised that employers give their employees tips on email etiquette such as maintaining corporate style. By communicating these steps effectively along with consistent policy checks should help your business reduce the risks of email misuse.
For advice on any employment related issue such as email use, speak to our employment expert Umberto Vietri
Employment, company & commercial