More Employers Restrict Online Access

More employers are blocking access to certain websites.  Facebook is a popular target.  According to research by Sophos, a security company, 43% of workers polled said their employer already blocks Facebook access completely. Software has been developed by several companies to block access to social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace. 

Guidelines are often used to help employees understand the company policy on personal internet use.  Interestingly, most employees do not question employer-restricted internet access. So why do employers want to restrict online access?  The main reason given is employees” reduced productivity – they are spending an inordinate amount of time on non-work related web sites. 

Other reasons include virus or spyware prevention, security, bandwidth concerns and potential liability issues. On the other hand, companies that allow access to Facebook may view it as a valuable networking tool.  They may worry about the possibility of an employee backlash to a ban.  Many accept that a certain amount of surfing can help productivity by allowing quicker access to information.

From a legal standpoint, a private employer who provides internet access on company equipment can generally set limitations on its use.  Employers can generally allow or restrict access to websites as they see fit.  The prudent employer makes sure that such limitations are communicated to employees in a writing that is acknowledged by the employee. 

Contributed by Amy Dobberstein.

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