The HR Specialist

Sample Policy: Computer Usage

The following sample policy was excerpted from The Book of Company Policies, published by HR Specialist, © 2010. Edit for your organization's purposes.

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“Employees have access to one or more forms of electronic media and services (computers, e-mail, telephones, voice-mail, fax machines, external electronic bulletin boards, wire services, on-line services, the Internet and the World Wide Web).

“The company encourages the use of these media and associated services because information technology is our business, because they make communication more efficient and effective, and because they are valuable sources of information, e.g., about vendors, customers, new products and services. However, electronic media and services provided by the company are company property, and their purpose is to facilitate company business.

“With the rapidly changing nature of electronic media, this policy cannot lay down rules to cover every possible situation. Instead, it expresses the company’s philosophy and sets forth general principles to be applied to use of electronic media and services. “The following procedures apply to all electronic media and services that are accessed on or from company premises, accessed using company computer equipment, or via company-paid access methods, and/or used in a manner which identifies the individual with the company.

PROCEDURES

USAGE. “Electronic media may not be used for knowingly transmitting, retrieving or storage of any communications of a discriminatory or harassing nature, or which are derogatory to any individual or group, or which are obscene or X-rated
communications, or are of a defamatory or threatening nature, or for ‘chain letters,’ or for any other purpose which is illegal or against company policy or contrary to the company’s interest.

“Electronic media and services are primarily for company business use. Limited, occasional or incidental use of electronic media (sending or receiving) for personal, non-business purposes is understandable and acceptable—as is the case with personal phone calls. However, employees need to demonstrate a sense of responsibility and may not abuse the privilege.

MONITORING. "The company routinely monitors usage patterns for both voice and data communications (e.g., number called or site accessed; call length; times of day calls). Reasons include cost analysis/allocation and the management of our gateway to the Internet.

"The company also reserves the right, in its discretion, to review any employee's electronic files and messages and usage to the extent necessary to ensure that electronic media and services are being used in compliance with the law and with this and other company policies.

"Employees should therefore not assume electronic communications are totally private and confidential and should transmit highly sensitive information in other ways.

SECURITY. “Employees must respect the confidentiality of other people’s electronic communications and may not attempt to read, ‘hack’ into other systems or other people’s logins, or ‘crack’ passwords, or breach computer or network security measures, or monitor electronic files or communications of other employees or third parties except by explicit direction of company management . No e-mail or other electronic communications may be sent which attempt to hide the identity of the sender, or represent the sender as someone else or from another company.

CONGESTION. “Electronic media and services should not be used in a manner that is likely to cause network congestion or significantly hamper the ability of other people to access and use the system.

COPYRIGHT. “Anyone obtaining electronic access to other companies’ or individuals’ materials must respect all copyrights and may not copy, retrieve, modify or forward copyrighted materials except as permitted by the copyright owner or a single copy for reference use only.

NETWORKS. “Any messages or information sent by an employee to one or more individuals via an electronic network
(e.g., bulletin board, on-line service, or Internet) are statements identifiable and attributable to our company. While some users include personal ‘disclaimers’ in electronic messages, it should be noted that there would still be a connection with the company, and the statement might still be legally imputed to the company. All communications sent by employees via a network must comply with this and other company policies, and may not disclose any confidential or proprietary company information.

“Network services and World Wide Web sites can and do monitor access and usage and can identify at least which company—and often which specific individual—is accessing their services. Thus accessing a particular bulletin board or Website leaves companyidentifiable electronic ‘tracks’ even if the employee merely reviews or downloads the material and does not post any message.

DISCIPLINE. “Any employee found to be abusing the privilege of company-facilitated access to electronic media or services will be subject to corrective action and/or risk having the privilege removed for him/herself and possibly other employees.”


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