An Employer's Rights: Surfing All The Day


I employ about 30 staff and all of them have internet access. I monitor their internet use. My IT person has told me that in the weeks before Xmas internet use by my staff heavily increased. I'm concerned they were spending work time surfing the internet to do their Xmas shopping. What can I do to prevent this sort of thing happening?

  • A trend has evolved among today's tech savvy generation of workers to view personal use of the internet at work as a right rather than a privilege. A Dominion Post investigation indicated that government workers spend at least 35,000 hours a year on online auction sites. That is equivalent to a year's work for more than 18 full time staff, about one million dollars in lost productivity. With the arrival of the Christmas shopping season last year, some employees may have been excessively using the internet at work to do their Christmas shopping.
  • You would be wise to have a policy allowing personal internet use. You need to make sure employees know the policy. While some limited personal use will often be anticipated and permitted, you could think about restricting the amount of time, or the times of day, when employees can use work internet facilities for personal use. Breach of the policy could be grounds for disciplinary action.
  • If you already have a policy, you should reiterate it to your employees. Also, think about reminding them again of the policy at the beginning of this year's Christmas season. Employees should be regularly reminded that the computer systems, internet facilities and software applications they are using are company property and should be used in accordance with company policy. Consequences for those who violate email and internet policies should also be established and well publicised.
  • If an employee breaches the internet usage policy you need to investigate their usage very carefully. You also need to carefully consider and investigate any explanation the employee has for their usage. Depending on the investigation and the employee's explanation, there may be grounds for disciplinary action.

Our thanks to Anna Wilson for this article. Anna is a solicitor in the employment team of transtasman law firm, Phillips Fox.

More employment law

Employment Law
Ace Payroll does not give legal advice but these employment law articles may assist more..
Minimum Wage
To check the current minimum wage, visit the New Zealand government website more..
90 Day Trial Periods
New employees can be on a trial period of up to 90 days more..
Daylight Saving
Daylight saving dates and handling related employment issues more..
Redundancy must be genuine
An employee can only be made redundant if their position no longer exists more..
Dismissal procedural fairness
An explanation of the meaning and importance of procedural fairness when terminating employees more..
Employee or contractor
Use this checklist to clarify the difference between an employee and a contractor more..
Contractors minimum wage
Contractors are not entitled to the minimum wage more..
Employee interview honesty
An employee must be honest at a job interview or risk subsequent dismissal more..
Employee deductions
Cannot make deductions without employee consent more..
Retreiving overpaid wages
An employer can retrieve overpaid wages if done correctly more..
Employment relationships
Make it clear when and how an offer of employment will be made more..
Terminated before started
Resigned from old job, then told new job no longer available more..
Video surveillance
The use of video surveillance by employers is common and legal more..
Host responsibility
Think about the safety of employees affected by alcohol at work functions more..
Failure to meet targets
An employee can be justifiably dismissed for failing to meet targets more..
Change pay frequency
Pay frequency can be changed if properly managed more..
Abandonment of employment
Must inquire into circumstances of worker's absence more..
Changed working hours
Redundancy possible if employee does not agree more..
Drivers license
Truck driver loses license. Dismissal fair and reasonable more..
Internet usage
You would be wise to have a policy for personal internet usage more..
Absent employees
Some tips on dealing with absent employees more..
Payment for Jury Service
There is no obligation on an employer to pay for jury service more..
Recruitment health questions
Health questions employers are entitled to ask prospective employees more..
Holiday And Leave Contents
Holiday pay, public holidays, sick and bereavement leave information more..
Alphabetical Index
The Ace Payroll alphabetical index provides links to all documentation more..
Ace Payroll FAQ Contents
All the most common Ace Payroll questions grouped by categories in a short table of key words more..