The workplace has been radically transformed by employee access to e-mail and the internet. But employers are discovering that there are serious legal risks involved in letting their staff loose on the information superhighway.
'Cyberliability' at work is a major growth area for lawyers. Pornography downloaded from the web, for example, can shock and offend if distributed - potentially leading to sexual harassment complaints. The same goes for e-mail harassment or bullying. One major US multinational recently had to pay £1.3 million in damages after a sexist joke was e-mailed to one of its female workers.
Employees may infringe copyright law, send out confidential information, commit libel and make commercial contracts via e-mail. A clear policy on internet use will make clear to staff where the boundaries are drawn and so minimise the employer's legal exposure. Why not start today?
Michael Burd at Lewis Silkin, solicitors.