Employee Privacy

Written by Serena Berger
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Employee privacy is an important issue, especially when employees use computers to communicate with other employees or with personal contacts. As a general rule, it is best to inform your employees about your company's computer usage policy. This lets you outline policies upfront so that all employees know how they can and cannot use their computers.

Employee Privacy on Company Computers

As with telephone conversations, many companies choose to monitor all emails sent and received by employees. Email accounts provided by employers are intended for business purposes. While it is up to the employer to decide if employees can use email accounts for personal use, you are better off only using your work account for business-related communications.

Emails are not the only aspects of computer communication and activity that can be monitored. Some companies use software that allows them to see what is on any computer terminal at any given time. The extent of employer monitoring may be limited by local laws or contracts, often pertaining to union or public sector employees.

Employees will often install their own software, media files, and file sharing applications on computers terminals. This can not only decrease their productivity, but also compromise the integrity of your company's network. Outlining appropriate usage and explaining that you will be monitoring computers for any violations of your policy can help minimize concerns that employees have about violations of their privacy. It is far better to inform them of your monitoring policies upfront than to surprise them in a disciplinary context with the fact that you have been monitoring their behavior.

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