Electronic Communications

About

  • With the increased use of electronic communication and internet access it is important that you are clear about any restrictions that apply to the use of such technology and that the restrictions do not impact on the smooth running of the business.

  • Computers are extremely important to the success of the Company's business and the Company encourages you to get maximum benefit from its system including developing your skill and knowledge in using it.

  • This policy sets out the minimum standards of conduct required of all staff. You must read this policy and apply it to your everyday work. Remember that the integrity of the Company's computer system is vital to the Company's operations.

  • To minimise risk to the system, including all the programmes and peripherals and for the avoidance of misunderstanding, all employees and freelance consultants working for the Company must abide by this Policy at all times.

  • If you have any questions as to the meaning or effect of this policy you should contact the Line Manager for guidance.

Compliance

  • This policy is not intended to be an exhaustive statement of the required conduct in relation to the use of e-mail, computers and internet facilities but sets out the minimum standards of conduct required in relation to their use. 

  • You will be required to comply with the spirit and the letter of this Electronic Communication Policy as a condition of your employment. Failure to comply with this Policy may result in disciplinary action. Serious breaches of this policy are likely to amount to gross misconduct. 

Principles

  • This policy aims to:

    • Clarify what is permissible use of e-mail and the internet whilst using the Company’s equipment and/or during Service time.

    • Ensure that the use of e-mail and the internet is both appropriate and reasonable.

    • Ensure that you are aware of the Company’s policy regarding electronic communication.

    • Provide guidance for the most effective use of e-mail and the internet.

The Policy

  • You are not permitted to access websites, download material or forward e-mails that contain sexual or pornographic material, that promote racism, sexism or intolerance, material containing defamatory comments, discriminatory material, copyright or unlicensed software or any other inappropriate/offensive material. Failure to comply will be regarded as gross misconduct.

  • You are not permitted to send or receive e-mails or documents that are offensive, demeaning or disruptive, or that include defamatory, libellous or sexually harassing statements or offensive comments based on gender, age, sexuality, race, religion, disability or appearance. This will apply internally and externally and will be regarded as gross misconduct. Receipt of this material must be reported to the Line Manager immediately.

  • The mailing of jokes is prohibited both internally and externally and failure to comply will be a disciplinary offence.

  • You should only use software that is approved, licensed and supplied by the Company and must not download other software without the express permission of the Line Manager (e.g. magazine cover disks/CDs, internet web downloads). You are not permitted to use any material that you either know, or suspect to be, in breach of copyright laws. Breach of copyright law for business purposes can be a criminal offence both by the Company and by the individual concerned.

  • No software may be loaded onto the system without first obtaining the permission of the General Manager. Software includes business applications, shareware, entertainment software, games, screensavers and demonstration software. If you are unsure about whether a piece of software requires a license, please contact the IT administrator. The copying of software media and manuals is also prohibited.

  • You are only allowed access to those parts of our computer system, which you need in order to carry out your normal duties.

Use of E-mail

  • The e-mail system is designed to facilitate prompt and effective communication between employees, external Companies and individuals.

  • E-mails sent should reflect the Company’s ethos and policies regarding such areas as equal opportunities.

  • If an e-mail system is not used appropriately:

    • Effective communication will be hindered

    • Valuable data may be lost and time wasted

    • You and/or the Company may be exposed to civil or criminal liability.

  • Employees using the e-mail system are therefore required to follow these instructions:

    You must

    • Respond to e-mails in a timely, professional and appropriate manner.

    • Manage your e-mail responsibly.

    • Pay attention to style and content of all e-mails, especially when sending mails externally, treating them in the same way as letters on the Company's headed notepaper.

    • All emails sent in connection with your employment must use the standard company signature protecting the contents against disclosure if they have been sent to the wrong address and giving instructions to anyone who may have received a misdirected communication.

    • Refer any obscene, indecent, offensive, inflammatory, sexist, derogatory to disabled persons, racially biased or socially offensive e-mail received to the Line Manager.

    • Alert the Line Manager immediately in the event of a virus warning.

    You must NOT

    • Send defamatory, aggressive, abusive, obscene, discriminatory, anti-social, offensive, pornographic, sexist, or derogatory e-mails.

    • Respond to “Junk Mail” or give warnings to new e-mail viruses.

    • Use e-mail to send or forward chain letters.

    • Send or forward e-mails to third parties if they contain information or data that refers to a client of the Company.

    • Adopt any other person's identity by sending e-mails using another person's e-mail address without authorisation. This would constitute a disciplinary offence.

    • Send any e-mail in anger or high emotion.

    • Use the Company's footer on a personal email

    • Use the Company's footer on a personal email

    • Make comments, or statements, which could in any way be contrived to be defamatory however innocent you consider them to be.

    • Initiate an e-mail, which could be considered an act of harassment.

    • Disclose information, which could be considered confidential to the Company and/or the employees.

    • You must not set the Company's computers to send unsolicited emails to multiple recipients, or use email for personal gain or use the Company's internet access and email system to sign up for online shopping or internet membership schemes or "chat rooms".

    • Your must not order anything on behalf of the Company by email unless you have proper authorisation to do so.

  • Personal emails are allowed in a similar way to that in which minor incidental personal telephone use is allowed. However, personal emails should be kept to a minimum and the Company's footer MUST NOT be shown on a personal email. Personal email usage should not be excessive and must not affect your ability to work properly for the Company during normal working hours.

    • Do think carefully before sending any questionable messages that could reflect badly on us as a Company and remember that what a recipient may perceive in a message may be more important to a Court than your intentions in sending it.

    • You should always bear in mind that an email from the Company has the same legal effect as a letter on the Company's notepaper. It is equally as important to take care in what you say in an email in case it is misunderstood.

    • Before sending any confidential information by email, consider carefully whether appropriate steps have been taken to maintain that confidentiality. Email is not inherently a more secure medium of communication than any traditional means and can easily be copied, forwarded and stored.

    • Failure to comply with the above may result in disciplinary action that may lead to dismissal.

Use of the Internet 

  • The primary reason for providing you with access to the internet is to assist you in your work for the Company. 

  • You Must:

    • Be aware that the Internet is an insecure medium. Messages may pass through the hands of unregulated service providers. The networks used by the Internet are vulnerable to hacking and governments can undertake interception on a substantial scale.

  • You Must NOT

    • Intentionally or recklessly access pornographic sites, or sites containing any obscene, sexist, derogatory or discriminatory material.

    • Access the Internet in order to gamble.

    • Access chat sites or other forums not related to business

    • Access social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or bebo not related to business except in break times.

    • Access the Internet in order to advertise or conduct any personal trade, service or profession.

    • Download software and programs from the Internet without consent from your manager

    • Give passwords to anyone outside the Company.

  • You should remember that viewing or downloading certain types of pictures or information may constitute a crime and if the Company believes that it has a duty to do so, it may inform the police of any concerns it may have. 

  • Personal Internet use is allowed in a similar way to that in which minor incidental personal telephone use is allowed. Personal Internet usage should not be excessive and must not affect your ability to work properly for us during normal working hours.

  • You must not use the Company's Internet access and email system to sign up for online shopping or Internet membership schemes or "chat rooms".

  • You must not give any client related security information to anyone other than that client unless specifically authorised to do so in writing by that client in advance.

  • Failure to comply with the above may result in disciplinary action that may lead to dismissal.

Security & Monitoring

  • Whilst the Company respects the privacy and autonomy of its employees, in order to ensure that the principles and policies of the Company are not compromised, authorised personnel reserve the right to monitor Internet records or otherwise intercept e-mail usage.

  • All e-mails sent or received using the Company’s equipment or sent to the Company’s e-mail address will be regarded as the Company’s property and are not private. If you use the Company’s equipment for private communication you waive your right to privacy and consent to their being read, monitored, recorded or otherwise intercepted by the Company.

  • Any abuse of the system will result in your access to the Internet being removed and may render you subject to disciplinary action.

  • Breach of this policy will be a disciplinary offence.

  • The Company carries out active, random, periodic monitoring of computer, e-mail and Internet use even after e-mails and files have been deleted.

Evidence in Legal Proceedings

  • Computer records, including e-mails can be used as evidence in both civil and criminal proceedings. Court procedures require litigants to disclose and release copies of all relevant documents.

Virus Protection Procedures

  • Generally, more damage to files is caused by inappropriate corrective action than by viruses themselves.

  • In order to prevent the introduction of virus contamination into the software system the following must be observed:

    • Unauthorised software including public domain software, magazine cover disks/CDs or Internet/World Wide Web downloads must not be used.

    • All software must be virus checked using standard testing procedures before being used.

  • If a virus is suspected, do nothing yourself but report the matter immediately to the General Manager as well as your own Line Manager.

  • External messages are the most common mechanism of infection by a virus. Any material from outside the Company must be properly virus checked before being loaded onto our computer system.

  • Many viruses are now spread by email messages and use the address book of the recipient to pass it on to other people. Some of these viruses are activated when an attachment to the message is opened and creators of these viruses frequently encourage the user to open the attachments simply by using a header such as "You must read this!" You should not open any attachment of this type and must generally be suspicious of any message that is received from an unknown source. In other words, only open mail when you know it is from a reliable source.

  • If you receive email warnings about viruses, please ignore the instructions they contain. In many cases they are hoaxes and the instructions, if followed, will damage our systems.

Networks

  • You must not make any change to the connection or configuration of your PC or install any extra facilities or application cards into it. None of the Company's PCs may be connected to a client network without permission from both the General Manager and written permission from that client.

Customer Procedures

  • If you use a client's computer system, you must observe that client's rules governing computers. In the absence of any such rules, you should follow the Company's rules.

Passwords

  • Use passwords at all times and change them at regular intervals. Do not select obvious passwords and keep them all confidential.

Records

  • As in other areas of the business, you should ensure that you keep proper records of dealings with outsiders, especially if any misunderstanding or dispute seems to be developing. It is always possible that what appeared to be a relatively trivial point could be of great significance later. It is not possible to foresee what will subsequently need to be checked and therefore you should ensure that you keep a complete record of all transactions.

Back-Ups

  • All TYF files should be kept on Google Drive. You are personally responsible for ensuring that you back up (on to Google Drive) any information on any portable computer system used in your work.             

  • Critical information should be transferred to Google Drive, or otherwise backed up, as soon as possible to avoid any loss of data.

Misuse of Computer or Email Systems

  • Misuse of our computer or email systems will be considered a serious disciplinary offence and dealt with in accordance with our Disciplinary Policy.

  • The following are examples of what may be considered "misuse". This list is not exhaustive. Depending on the circumstances of each case, misuse of the computer system may be considered gross misconduct, which may be punishable by dismissal without notice.

    • Fraud and theft.

    • System sabotage. 

    • Introduction of viruses and time bombs.

    • Using unauthorised software.

    • Obtaining unauthorised access

    • Using the system for unauthorised private work or game playing.

    • Breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998

    • Sending abusive, rude or defamatory messages via email

    • Hacking or breach of the Company's security procedures or this Policy

  • Misuse amounting to criminal conduct may be reported by the Company to the Police.

  • You are responsible for any actions taken against us by a third party arising from restricted and/or offensive material being displayed or sent by you through our computer system.

  • All breaches of computer security or this Policy must be referred to your Line Manager immediately.

  • If you suspect that any freelance consultant or employee is abusing the computer system, you may speak in confidence at any time to your Line Manager.