Email abuse becoming major sacking offence

Email abuse becoming major sacking offence

Although most organisations have policies in place to control use of internet and email systems, staff have been dismissed for misusing such systems at nearly a quarter of UK companies.

Link: Delays hit email ‘snooping’ code (

A recent survey of 316 companies by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that 94% of organisations had implemented a policy for staff, offering guidance on appropriate usage.

However, despite the widespread implementation of policies, almost 60 per cent of firms have experienced problems with staff misusing the internet or email. The figure rises to 73% among large organisations.

Of the 186 companies that had experienced problems, 42% had dismissed staff over the past five years for misusing systems, and 27% had suspended staff.

Eighty-five per cent had taken some form of action short of suspension or dismissal in certain cases.

Dismissals were most common in large organisations; half of respondents from such firms admitted to sacking staff for misusing internet or email systems.

The survey followed recent news that BT has sacked 200 employees over the past 18 months for failing to comply with internet and email usage policies.

Martino Corbelli, marketing director at filtering specialist SurfControl, warned that having a policy in place is only the first step to combating misuse.

‘Policies offer a framework and background of legal support for employers, but they don’t stop abuse occurring,’ he said.

‘Although they are important, firms must have something in place that enforces the guidelines and protects employers and staff from inappropriate content.’

Corbelli suggested that companies should take three steps to tackle the problem: policy implementation; regular staff training with updates on policy changes; and a filtering system to protect against breaches.

The CIPD survey also examined the use of technology within HR departments, and found that systems generally fall short of user expectations. Only 10% of HR teams said their information systems met their needs well.

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