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Is Porn Ever Acceptable in the Workplace?

EH SolicitorsBlogIs Porn Ever Acceptable in the Workplace?

Nov

26

Is Porn Ever Acceptable in the Workplace?

Porn Workplace

Is porn ever acceptable in the workplace?

On a recent Jeremy Vine show, there was a discussion about porn in the workplace.  According to Dr Christoph Ahlers, the world’s largest free porn site attracts 60 million visitors each day and around two thirds of those visitors are thought to be accessing the site from work.

Employers should think about what behaviour is and is not acceptable to their workplace.  They should also consider whether permitting employees to watch porn now may create a precedent for acceptable behaviour further down the line.  It is always advisable to have a clear policy contained within the company handbook setting out parameters for web use and the potential consequences of not abiding by this policy.  If the company’s policy states that viewing porn at work could result in summary dismissal and the employer later dismisses for this, the dismissal is likely to be deemed fair.

WHAT SHOULD EMPLOYERS DO?

Employers should not simply consider the use of porn alone however.  Instead, they should be looking at how much time employees generally spend online whilst at work and consider monitoring personal/work use.  It may not just be porn having an effect on productivity.  If monitoring does occur, employees should be notified.

Employees should in most cases be treated the same as other colleagues.  Therefore, if you find one person has accessed porn and they reveal others have accessed porn, then it is likely they will be treated the same but of course each case has to be viewed on its own facts.  Therefore, if you discover a large proportion of the workforce is potentially guilty of the offence, you may wish to subject them all to the disciplinary process and issue reminders to all about the policy in force and potential consequences for breaching it.  Employers should lead by example and managers need to ensure they understand the policy and enforce it impartially and fairly.

EMPLOYERS BEWARE!

It would be a very simplistic approach to think that porn is ‘just a bit of fun’ and employers taking this view should reconsider the actions of their employees as they could be opening the company up to disrepute, they could be downloading viruses when opening certain attachments and it could lead to claims from other employees who feel humiliated or degraded by such actions.

Employers should always keep in mind that the choices they make today could impact upon the decisions made tomorrow.

For further information or to discuss an employment law query, please telephone Ian Hass on 0800 197 3560 or email him at [email protected].

 

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