This policy describes the guidelines of Walker Thompson Ltd (the Company) with regard to Internet access and disclosure of electronic mail messages sent or received by all Walker Thompson employees using the organisation’s ICT systems.
Whilst the practice encourages staff to embrace ICT to its fullest extent it is important that guidelines are issued for the protection of the individual and the practice
There are common sense guidelines for the way in which we are all expected to conduct ourselves within every aspect of our work. These values of Empowerment, Respect, Integrity and Commitment are paramount when we are using such a versatile and widespread medium such as the Internet.
- The Company empowers people to use ICT to its fullest extent to ensure we work at our fullest and most effective capacity.
- The Company demand Respect from all staff for its clients, Directors, the wider community and for each other. This means systems must not be used in a detrimental or offensive way.
- The Company demands Integrity from all staff so that we are confident that Walker Thompson Ltd is not or can not be accused of facilitating any unlawful or offensive action at any time.
- The Company expects Commitment to ensure we are seen as exemplars in the way we conduct our business which includes the way we use our ICT systems.
The Company respects the individual privacy of its employees. However, employee privacy does not extend to the employee’s work-related activities or to the use of company provided equipment or supplies. Staff should be aware that this policy might affect their privacy in the workplace.
PROVISION OF INTERNET E-MAIL ACCESS
As a condition of providing Internet access to its employees the firm places certain restrictions on workplace use of the Internet and e-mail, the system must be used for the following :-
- to communicate with fellow employees and clients regarding matters within an employees assigned duties
- to acquire information related to or designed to assist and/or improve the performance of the job holder
- to facilitate performance of any task or project in a manner approved by the Directors
COMPLIANCE WITH APPLICABLE LAWS AND LICENCES
Employees must comply with all software licences, copyrights, and all other laws governing intellectual property and online activity – staff are also reminded that installation of any software onto the computer systems must have Director approval beforehand. If in doubt please ask for guidance.
MISUSE OF THE INTERNET
Please note that staff use of Internet access provided by the practice expressly prohibits the following in or outside of company time :-
- use of private e-mail accounts
- game playing/using news groups
- intentional distribution of destructive programmes (i.e., viruses and/or self replicating code)
- intentional damage or interference with other systems
- access to, use of and/or distribution of obscene files
- dissemination or printing of copyrighted materials (including articles and software) in violation of copyright laws
- sending, receiving, printing or otherwise disseminating proprietary data, trade secrets or other confidential information of the practice or its clients in violation of company policy
- offensive or harassing statements, images or language likely to intimidate, threaten or in any way cause offence to others based on their race, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, disability, religious or political beliefs or personal characteristics
- sending or soliciting sexually orientated messages or images
- operating a business in direct conflict to the practice’s services or products or any form of soliciting money for personal gain
- sending chain letters, gambling or engaging in any other activity in violation of the law
Violation of the Company’s Internet acceptable policy may include disciplinary action. The measure of discipline will correspond to the gravity of the offence as weighed by its potential effect on the practice and fellow employees.
E-MAIL - MANAGEMENTS RIGHT TO ACCESS INFORMATION
The electronic mail system has been installed to facilitate business communications. The contents of e-mail communications are accessible at all times by the management for any business purpose. The Company reserves the right to monitor e-mails and from time to time will exercise the right. All e-mail messages are company records. The contents of e-mails obtained justifiably for legitimate business purposes may be disclosed within the organisation without permission. Therefore, staff should not assume that messages are confidential. Back up copies of e-mail may be obtained and referenced for business and legal reasons. E-mail is no less legally or contractually binding than any other forms of written communication. Careful use of wording is important to minimise inadvertently forming opinions in the recipients mind which may not be that intended.
PERSONAL USE OF E-MAIL
Because the Company provides the electronic mail system to assist staff in the performance of their job, staff should use it only for Walker Thompson business. Incidental and very occasional personal use is permitted, but these messages will be treated the same as other messages and will be monitored for content and frequency levels. The Company reserves the right to access and disclose where appropriate all messages sent over its e-mail system, without regard to content. Since any personal messages can be accessed by management without prior notice, staff should not use e-mail to transmit any messages they would not want to be read by a third party.
Employees are prohibited from the unauthorised use of passwords with regard to e-mail messages or any other files, unless specific permission has been given as in the case of proxy access.
Any material downloaded from the Internet or from computers or networks MUST be scanned for viruses and other destructive programmes before being placed onto the company system. If in doubt staff should ask for guidance.
FURTHER INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE
Sources used to construct this policy were
- the code of Best Practice for e-Business’
- Croners sample Electronic transmissions policy
Last Updated 13 April 2011