Ask the legal expert: monitoring employees' computer use at work

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Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP
Attorney John Durso, Ungaretti & Harris LLP
What type of monitoring of my employees' computer use at work can I do? I think there's a lot of time-wasting Internet surfing and e-mailing, etc., going on. I would like to quash at least some of it. What are the best ways to do this?

The best way to monitor employees' computer use at work is to formulate a computer usage policy that puts employees on notice that all facility-issued equipment is the property of the long-term care facility and that employees should have no expectation of privacy in the use of the long-term care facility's equipment.

An employee's expectation of privacy in using company-issued computers, phones and PDAs is one of today's most hotly litigated issues. Most courts recognize an employer's right to monitor employee usage of employer-issued equipment if the employer has in place a computer usage policy and makes employees aware of this policy.

If you plan on monitoring employees' computer usage, formulate a policy that advises employees that computers and other facility-issued equipment is for facility business only.

Do not carve out exceptions for limited personal use. Further advise that if an employee chooses to use company equipment for personal use, there should be no expectation of privacy and that the facility reserves the right to monitor employee usage.

It is also wise to advise employees that any computer usage that violates the facility's other policies (such as a sexual harassment policy) may be grounds for immediate termination.

Distribute the policy and be sure to collect an acknowledgment from each employee that the employee has received the policy. Then you can feel more secure monitoring what employees are doing on their computers.
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