BusinessCompany NewsCompany porn surfers get the boot

Company porn surfers get the boot

A quarter of UK companies have dismissed employees for internet abuses with the majority of sackings blamed on porn surfing, according to a survey commissioned by employee internet management software company Websense International and Personnel Today magazine.

Forty per cent of all complaints to HR were made by co-workers unhappy with their colleagues wasting time on the internet, and their choice of viewing material. Web chat rooms and personal email browsing also generated significant complaints from unhappy colleagues.

The survey – conducted among 544 human resources managers at some of Britain’s largest corporations, found that 72% of UK firms have had to deal with Internet misuse in the workplace.

But despite being a common problem for British companies – HR managers are involved in one complaint per month on average – the issue continues to be dealt with behind closed doors.

Lisa Harris, employment solicitor at law firm Morgan Cole, said that more clarity was needed to curb the problem. ‘Employees have been given this great tool – the onus is really on employers to train them how to use it. Companies ideally need to have a policy in place which defines what is or isn’t acceptable and the penalties,’ Harris said.

A study from analyst Gartner published last year suggested that getting rid of the gossip, jokes and other unproductive email from colleagues can save up to 30% of the time an employee spends reading email.

But Harris warned that a draconian attitude towards internet usage did not tend to go down well among employees. ‘If this is addressed in a more rational and conciliatory way, staff are more likely to comply,’ Harris said.

The majority of HR respondents said 20 minutes a day was a fair and acceptable amount of time for personal internet surfing.

The law firm warns that dismissal for internet misuse should be a last resort.

Not only is it costly in terms of advertising for new hires, recruitment, training and supervision, there are also additional financial burdens caused by the interruption to work patterns, the damage to morale and the negative publicity to the organisation as a result of dismissals.

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