<em>Legally</em> <strong>Speaking</strong>
 
 

 

Avoiding electronic distractions in the workplace
Jim Juliano - Spring 2009

E-mails, YouTube videos, text messages, a practically infinite number of online sites for news, fantasy sports, shopping, investing and pretty much everything else—they’re all at your employees’ fingertips all day, every day.

How can you help your employees avoid technological temptations in the workplace?

A certain amount of personal activity will creep into a workday no matter what, even among hardworking and dedicated employees. But every employer looks for better ways to keep people on task and focused on the mission of the business.

Legally speaking, one way to discourage your employees from logging onto eBay at work is to let them know that everything that passes through company equipment belongs to the company.

That means, for example, that personal e-mails are not private e-mails. The employer has the right to any material—e-mails, documents, faxes, voice mails, etc.—written or received on any office equipment.

How do you get the message to your employees? One fundamental step is to make sure that your employee manual clearly states that any information that finds its way to the office computer system and any other office electronic equipment belongs to the employer, and that the employee has no legal expectation of privacy in that information. This message applies to any electronic devices, even handheld PDAs, that the employer purchases for the employee.

The employer has the right to read, save, store, copy, destroy or otherwise control any personal e-mails,documents, faxes, voice mails, Internet histories and so on. Moreover, the employer has no duty to let the employee know that any of this is happening.

Awareness of this lack of privacy alone may discourage an employee from spending two hours on the fantasy football draft instead of the next set of customer calls.

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This website contains general information that should not be considered legal advice or legal opinion concerning individual situations. Legal counsel should be consulted for specific advice.

Copyright 2009 by L. James Juliano Jr.
Legally Speaking® is a registered trademark of the law practice of L. James Juliano Jr.