Internet porn a growing headache for employers

2006

Staff downloading porn from the internet at work is becoming a growing problem for employers, as new figures reveal that record numbers of Britons are accessing sex sites online.

More than nine million men – almost 40 per cent of the male population – used pornographic websites last year, compared with an estimated two million in 2000, the research by internet analysis firm Nielsen NetRatings concluded.

Perhaps surprisingly, women were among the fastest growing users of online pornography, with a 30 per cent rise from one million to 1.5 million in the past 12 months, the survey found. A quarter of men aged 25 to 49 had visited an adult website in the past month – a total of 2.5 million men, it added.

Pornographic material downloaded in the workplace was on the rise and employment law experts have warned it looks set to become a bigger headache for companies if they fail to act now to nip it in the bud.

Mark Higgins, head of employment at national law firm Betesh Fox, said: "As the internet becomes an indispensable business tool the number of cases of conduct dismissals related to employees accessing inappropriate material is rising.

"However, employers must have regard to principles of fairness which underlie dismissals procedures," he added.

"It is advisable to adopt an internet policy which sets out the parameters of acceptable internet use together with a clear indication as to how breaches of the policy will be treated.

"All employees should be directed to the policy and, if necessary, requested to provide written acknowledgement before being granted access," he concluded.