It would be extremely surprising these days to discover that a company does not have email. This form of communication is not only free in some cases, but extremely convenient, fast and effective. With that thought in mind, your employees are using email for both business and personal use, sometimes using your business email account for personal use.
It is for this very reason that your company should implement, if you have not already, an email policy. This policy should outline what employees can and cannot do with regards to their company email account. If you were not aware, there are legal issues surrounding email use. Below are some items that should be included in your company email policy.
The policy should begin with a general overview stating the proper use of the company’s email system. State in clear terms what is acceptable and unacceptable, and what disciplinary actions will take place in the event these policies are not followed.
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 email.
The employee and/or the company may be held liable for sending or forwarding emails with any libelous, defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks, or unlawfully forward confidential email. The employee and/or the company may also be held liable for copyright infringement if you unlawfully forward or copy messages without permission.
There are rules required by law that must be strictly adhered to. It is prohibited to send or forward emails containing offensive or disruptive content, which includes, but is not limited to defamatory, offensive, racist or obscene remarks. If an employee receives an email of this nature, they should immediately notify their supervisor.
It is prohibited to forward a message without acquiring permission from the sender first, to send unsolicited email messages, to forge or attempt to forge email messages, to disguise or attempt to disguise identity when sending mail, to send email messages using another person´s email account, or to copy a message or attachment belonging to another user without permission of the originator.
The company should convey to the employee the importance of proper and professional email content, including replies. The employee is representing the company and should portray a professional image on behalf of the company. Some examples of items to take into consideration are email format, including a signature line that should be uniform across the entire company, blank background (no flowery background unless your company is a florist).
It is important that your employees use spell check all mails prior to transmission. Do not send unnecessary attachments and compress attachments larger than 200K before sending them.
Your company should strictly forbid the use of email for anything other than legitimate business. Therefore, the sending of personal emails, chain letters, junk mail, jokes and executable would be prohibited. All messages distributed via your company´s email system are the property of the company.
The policy should be that the office manager or someone in the computer department has access to any computer passwords. The use of passwords to gain access to the computer system or to secure specific files does not provide users with an expectation of privacy in the respective system or document.
A corporate disclaimer should be added under the signature line. This is the one I use for all my correspondence:
This message (and any associated files) is intended for the use of the individual or entity to which it is addressed and may contain information that is confidential, subject to copyright or constitutes a trade secret. If you are not the intended recipient you are hereby notified that any dissemination, copying or distribution if this message, is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please notify us immediately by replying to the message and deleting it from your computer. Messages sent to and from us may be monitored.
Internet communications cannot be guaranteed to be secure or with out error as information could be intercepted, corrupted, lost, destroyed, arrive late or incomplete, or contain viruses. Therefore, we do not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions that are present in this message or any attachment that has arisen as a result of e-mail transmission. If verification is required, please request a hard copy version. Any views or opinions presented are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the firm.
If you would like to obtain a free sample email policy in Microsoft Word format, please visit http://www.email-policy.com. A short and long version is available.
“In God we trust, all others we virus scan.” ~ Unknown