E-mail usage policy within a company

Every employee has a responsibility to maintain your company’s image and to use emails in a productive manner and to avoid placing your company at risk.

To do so, you really should have an email usage policy in place, so that your employees understand that all messages distributed via your email system, even personal emails, are the property of your company. They must have no expectation of privacy in anything that they create, store, send or receive on your email system and that their emails can be monitored without prior notification, if you deem this necessary. If there is evidence that your employees are not adhering to the guidelines set out in the policy, your company reserves the right to take disciplinary action, including steps that may lead to an employee’s termination and/or legal action.

Email is a business communication tool and users are obliged to use this tool in a responsible, effective and lawful manner. Although by its nature, email seems to be less formal than other written communication, the same laws apply. Therefore, it is important that users are aware of the legal risks of emails that contain confidential or commercially sensitive information, or that may contain, defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks, when you and employee can be held liable.

There are other risks: an email message may legally bind your company, contractually, in certain instances, without the proper authority being obtained, internally; email messages can carry computer viruses. If your employee sends an attachment that contains a virus, your company and the employee can be held liable; by opening emails and attachments from an unknown sender your employee may introduce a virus into the company’s computer operations.

The policy would require the employee to use your email system for nothing other than legitimate business purposes. Therefore, the sending of personal emails, chain letters, junk mail, and jokes is prohibited.

Employees must only send emails that have content that could be displayed on a public notice board. If emails cannot be displayed publicly in their current state, they must consider rephrasing them, using other means of communication, or protecting information by using a password.

These are some of the issues that you should cover in an email user policy. Contact me if you need help in putting one together.

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