Are you responsible for what your employees do online?

by Emma Jowett March 31st, 2011 

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How much control and subsequently liability do employees have when it comes to the online actions of their staff?

Its quite a grey area, as most employees will also have their own personal accounts (email, blog, Twitter, Facebook etc) as well as the company owned ones. Its pretty impossible for an employer to try to monitor and control all this activity.

Prevention

Its impossible to prevent a member of your team from committing an online mistake or offence but you can do everything possible to encourage them to behave appropriately when using the internet at work.

A robust communication policy covering internet usage should always be put into place and any new starters made aware of the expectations. Alongside this policy, an agreement to adhere to these guidelines should be written into the contracts of all staff.

Protection

Professional indemnity insurance is designed to cover you for negligence claims made against you. For example, if an employee leaks a confidential piece of information online that subsequently loses a client money " you could face legal action and a compensation claim. Equally, if someone negligently and unwittingly breaches confidentiality or copyright online, your professional indemnity cover might come in very handy.

If youre heavily reliant on the web and online systems, a specialist cyber insurance policy (or e-risks cover) can help protect you financially against a whole range of online eventualities. For example, if you unknowingly transmitted a virus to a third party system, you may have to pay the cost of the damage.

Controversial or confidential material has the potential to spread and go viral overnight. With that in mind, you may feel you need some kind of crisis containment cover. This type of insurance could help cover the cost of expert public relations consultants, should you need to mitigate a crisis, manage media attention and uphold your public image.

Warning on Fines & Penalties

Its worth noting that any fines and penalties received as a result of online activity normally aren't covered under any insurance policy. Malicious online acts or failure to take necessary security precautions usually falls outside of your cover.

What's the one thing in your experience new business owners should do to keep their business legally "safe" on the Internet?

Emma Jowett

Emma Jowett is resident writer at Policy Expert - an online insurance hub specialising in home insurance, business insurance and landlord insurance.

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One Response to “Are you responsible for what your employees do online?”

  1. Pam White says:

    I agree when you say that it is "impossible to prevent a member of your

    team from committing an online mistake or offence but you can do

    everything possible to encourage them to behave appropriately when using

    the Internet at work." Though most members of my very own staff are

    professionals, I can't expect them to observe proper decorum at all

    times especially when it comes to their browsing and other online

    activities. To keep them at bay from being unscrupulous when using the

    Internet, we make them fully understand the consequences of their action

    once they are caught doing so. They must be held accountable to their

    action.