Acceptable IT use policy
This policy provides information for employees for acceptable IT use in the workplace.
The policy sets out how you manage situations where an employee is using IT for unacceptable reasons.
This policy is suitable for use in any business with persons who are:
- permanent employees (including full time and part-time);
- fixed-term employees;
- casual employees; and
- temporary agency staff and contractors.
This policy may be used in conjunction with other policies, such as “Confidentiality policy”, “Employee standard of conduct guidelines”, “Harassment and bullying policy”, and “Termination of employment policy”.
What is acceptable IT use?
Information technology (IT) includes the use of computers to store, retrieve, transmit, and manipulate data and information. This policy is especially useful if you operate online IT facilities, including Internet and email.
The purpose of this policy is to give a clear statement to all users of the IT facilities (including employees, temporary staff, and contractors) of their responsibilities. This includes what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable use, and to manage the provision and modification of access to online services.
In the case of Griffiths v Rose  FCA 30, for example, the employee, Mr Griffiths, was an employee in the IT department. He was given a company computer and had the ability to take his computer home. After work and on weekends, Mr Griffiths watched copious amounts of pornography on the company computer, which was recorded by the employer.
The employer dismissed Mr Griffiths, which he disputed in Court.
The Court found that the employer had every right to dismiss Mr Griffiths, as he had read and signed the company policy, and was aware that his use of laptop could be monitored.
Without a policy in place, Mr Griffiths could have argued against his dismissal. However, he went against the acceptable IT use, and as he signed a policy, the employer was covered.
In Batterham and Others v Dairy Farmers Ltd, seven employees challenged their dismissal from the Dairy Farmers. The employees had received and sent inappropriate material, including pornography, through the company’s email system.
However, the Fair Work Commission dismissed their claim and explained that due to the policies that the employees had signed, the company had every right to dismiss the employees.
Without policies in place, the company would have been vulnerable in such court cases. Policies are implemented to explain to the employee what is, and is not, appropriate in the workplace. Building an acceptable use IT policy with Legal Consolidated will help every employer outline acceptable guidelines that the employee must follow, and also covers the employer if any issues arise in the future.
How important are Workplace Policies in Australia?
Never before have employees had so many opportunities to attack employers. Workplace Policies reinforce and clarify the standards expected of employees. They help employers manage and guide staff more effectively. Workplace Policies define what is acceptable and unacceptable in business.
Workplace Policies benefit the employer
Legally prepared workplace Policies help businesses in many ways. Policies demonstrate that the organisation is operated in an efficient and businesslike manner, raise stability and ensure consistency in the decision-making and operational procedures.
Workplace Policies assist employers to defend themselves in an unfair dismissal claim, Occupation Health and Safety (OHS) prosecution and liability claims.
Work Policies vs Employment Contracts
Policies should form part of each employee’s employment contract.
Check your current Employment Contracts.
- The Employment Contract must expressly state that the employee is subject to the policies, as amended from time to time.
- The Employment Contract should expressly state that your business can change the Workplace Policies, from time to time.
- When the Employment Contract is drafted correctly you are bound by the Workplace Policies.
You cannot automatically direct an employee to obey policies. Instead, incorporate them into the Employment Contract. For example, in BHP Iron Ore Pty Ltd v Australian Workers’ Union (2000) 102 FCR 97, the Court held that a memo is not enough to bind the employee to the policies. It is only possible to bind an employee to policies by express reference in the Employment Contract.
If you are unsure you can build Employment Contracts which adopt these Workplace Policies here: Contract of Employment Page.
Why these Policies are important
A policy is a statement which underpins how human resource management issues are dealt with at your business. It communicates your values and expectations of employee behaviours and performance.
Workplace Policies reinforce and clarify standard operating procedures. They help you manage staff more effectively by clearly defining acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the workplace and set out the implications of not complying with those policies.
For help building these policies Start Building, read the hints and watch the training videos.