Recent legal articles covering pornographic images in the workplace emphasise the need for an Acceptable Use Policy

Reading, UK – January, 2012 In line with the general move towards accepting that pornographic images and videos in the workplace constitute a major security threat and demand a content management solution there have been some interesting recent articles covering the sector:

“Sex, lies and employees: pornography in the workplace” (1)- specifically related to the situation under French employment law this article re-emphasises the requirement for companies to have a clear acceptable use policy in place. Without a policy then no action can be taken against employees who use the IT system for personal purposes. The article states “it seems necessary for employers to implement an IT policy in order to take disciplinary action. This was demonstrated by a Supreme Court decision in December 2010,(8) in a case where an employee used his work email address to receive and save 480 pornographic files in direct violation of the employer’s IT policy. The court held that his dismissal was justified, whereas another dismissal on similar grounds was held to be unfair due to the absence of such an IT policy”The article also provides the following checklist for companies seeking to limit the inappropriate usage of IT equipment:

Employers can define limits on the use of IT equipment and the Internet, for instance:

1.   by physically preventing access to certain sites (through filters); or

2.   by establishing internal regulations or an IT policy prohibiting:access to

  • ‘adult’ websites (ie, dating, chat, pornographic websites);
  • the storage or downloading of sexually explicit photographs or videos; and
  • the creation of pornographic or otherwise inappropriate websites.

“What to do with ‘cyberslackers’ “(2) -An excellent Canadian HR Law perspective from Stuart Rudner which explains the rights of employers to monitor company owned IT equipment and confront cyberslacking. The message is again clear that all companies need a clear but more importantly enforceable policy in place. In addition to it being in place the company must take steps to ensure enforcement and not ‘turn a blind eye to breaches – the article states:

“Employers should also be careful to avoid condoning inappropriate conduct such as cyberslacking. Even if they have a well-written policy that has been disseminated to all employees, if the evidence shows it is commonplace within a particular workplace for employees to spend hours on Facebook or other non-related websites, and the employer is aware of this or ought to have been aware of it but did not take any steps to correct it, then the employer will be hard pressed to enforce the existing policy.”