Now more than ever before employer eyes are glued on the workforce. Employee internet monitoring is but one of the ways companies keep an eye on activities on their premises. Businesses have a right to make sure its employees are engaged in the work behaviors for which they were hired. Nonetheless employees should not feel like criminals by having their every move watched or heard.

monitoring employee internet usage

Several polls have shown that between 25-37 percent of employees use employer internet resources for non business related issues while at work. Another poll found that 1 in 5 businesses have taken adverse action against workers for unsuitable internet use. Monitoring employee internet use and a companies right to watch are becoming more complex.

I’m Yancey and my employer has taken several steps the last few years to control internet use. Network filtering systems, internet guidelines in employee handbooks and requiring employees to sign acceptable use policies to name a few.

Internet usage policies, employee monitoring

…and employee privacy rights are becoming more difficult to balance. Many unexpected privacy issues have erupted as a result of the tremendous growth of the internet. Because of this legal guidelines and regulations are lagging behind. This has increased the likelihood of negative publicity and expensive lawsuits for employers and employees.

employee internet monitoring

Learning to reach a balance between employee monitoring and invasion of employee privacy is what employers need to identify. Companies should explain to the workforce what employee privacy rights they are entitled to and what represents an intrusion.

Employers should inform the employees in writing that they will be under observation. The employer should also have the employees sign waivers of understanding that activities like…
  • job performance
  • phone calls
  • employee movements
  • computer use
  • internet access of various websites
  • email access
…will be monitored.

My fellow employees, be aware that your employer may not turn its surveillance into on the job voyeurism. Employees have prevailed in court when employers claimed drugs as a reason for videotaping them without there knowledge. In one case, no illegal drugs were found, used or sold. The only things found were employees changing clothes exposed to hidden cameras.

employee internet monitoring

Internet employee pornography

According to studies, 25-50 per cent of all internet addiction happens on the job. Internet surfing has been targeted as an extremely addictive activity that’s become a big problem in the workplace. Some polls have shown that two thirds of employees have accessed websites not relevant to their job.

Statistics show that about 20 percent of employees admit to visiting pornographic websites during work hours. There also appears to be an enormous lack of awareness of what employers know employees are doing on the internet. Another study shows that two thirds of pornographic web surfing happens during normal business hours.

Companies are finding themselves in hostile work environment lawsuits by co-workers who are offended by what’s being viewed. Stopping employee internet abuse makes sense for employers and employees alike. More companies are creating “acceptable use policies” for employee monitoring of internet use.

Work internet access abuse...

...has made employee internet monitoring critical for employers. There has been amazing business growth in internet use in the last few years. Because of changes in how business is done, more employees need access to the world wide web. Even though businesses have many uses of the internet, a lot of the information accessed by employees isn’t related to their job.

employee internet monitoring

When utilizing acceptable use policy,

…effective employee internet monitoring is very important to employers. More employers are aware that unlimited use of the internet may potentially hinder the efficiency of the workforce. An internet acceptable use policy that explains the allowable guidelines of workplace use is the answer.

When specifying guidelines for internet acceptable use policy, a signed employee agreement should make clear what type of use is allowed. When reporting the internet usage, the policy should also include what is not allowed. It should have these guidelines for…
  • penalties for policy violations
  • breaches of security
  • tampering with the computer system
All internet usage policies and employee access should require signatures of those using the web. Internet access can aid and hinder the efficiency of employees. The vast number of entertainment sites is creating an ever increasing level of distraction for the workforce.

Because internet access has been made available to the majority of the workforce, this is creating a loss of productivity for employers. An internet acceptable use policy helps a business curtail excessive use of its computer resources. Let’s face it, as an employee I know that a lot of non work related internet access is done by both employees and managers!

employee internet monitoring

Effective employee internet monitoring

Employees need to understand that internet access is not a right but either a necessary tool of business or a perk. It is an expense of doing business for the company. Employers may have information that is of a sensitive nature. This data may include trade secrets, or other information that may be released through the internet that would harm the business.

Employees should also be aware that an employer has a legitimate concern about any internet activity that may be illegal, such as online gambling. The potential violation of copyright laws gives employers reason for monitoring employee internet use.

As an employee I’ve learned, my employer isn’t under any obligation to provide internet entertainment or non-work related access to me. I believe employee internet monitoring will continue to be a challenge for employers and employees to balance in the workplace. Employers have every right to monitor how much and why the internet gets used.

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Return from Employee Internet Monitoring to Workplace Privacy Issues


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