How to effectively craft a policy for monitoring employees’ online activity

Do employees have any expectation of privacy when using employer-provided devices?

Most employees understand the need for a monitoring policy. However, many do not want their every move micromanaged and tracked. When using an employer-provided device, it is important for the employee to understand that the device is the property of the company and is and should be used for business only. Anything that is not business-related should be handled after business hours on their own personal devices.

How should an employee-monitoring policy be crafted?

Employers looking to craft a monitoring policy should keep in mind that the policy should be reasonable. Restricting all online activity is unrealistic and practically impossible to enforce. The most effective policy would involve monitoring online activity but would also allow employees the freedom to work without feeling ‘Big Brother’ is watching over them.

Any policy that is created by the employer should:

  • Explain the business-related reason for the monitoring.
  • Discuss what is considered to be permissible work-related activity and what is considered prohibited, inappropriate activity.
  • Address the consequences of violating the policy, up to and including termination.

Finally, all employees must sign the policy. Acknowledging and signing the policy will help to prevent future issues.

What legal rights do employers have when it comes to monitoring their employees?

Most courts have ruled in favor of the employer when it comes to monitoring employee online activity. Whether they have a written policy or not, employers typically have the right as long as they have a business-related reason to do so. That said, employers should always make sure they are up to date on their state’s regulations and laws.

Jennifer Coon-Leeper, CSP, is a major accounts manager for Ashton Staffing, Inc. Reach her at [email protected] or (770) 419-1776.