Today's Times quotes HMRC:
"HMRC's priority is to allow staff access to websites which allow them to do their jobs. This site does not fall into that category." says a spokesman sternly.
HMRC, like many other organisations, appears to have a little trouble accepting the fact that in the 21st century the internet (for all its good and bad points) is as much a part of our lives as eg phones.
To some extent I too have sympathy with organisations that struggle with allowing unlimited access to the net. There is a very real danger that staff could spend the entire day on Facebook etc, without putting quill to parchment.
However, it is in the interests of organisations (including HMRC), and their employees, that individual members of staff are fully conversant with technological innovations such as the internet and email.
Therefore organisations that handle the net in a sensible manner, and ensure that staff understand some basic do's and don't with regard to its usage, should find that allowing access does not result in a reduction of productivity and will in fact improve staff morale.
The fundamental principle being that if you treat staff as responsible adults, they will behave as responsible adults.
Here is a non prescriptive, pro forma guideline, that companies (even HMRC) could incorporate into their codes of conduct. I assume HMRC has a code of conduct for staff?
This guideline is intended to form part of a company's code of conduct. As such breaches of this guideline would constitute a breach of the code, and shall constitute a notifiable event; requiring registration and action (as deemed appropriate) by the management responsible for implementation of the code.
The company expects that staff will use the internet, email and telephone facilities in a responsible manner. The use of these facilities is encouraged, where the use is for business purposes and supports the goals and objectives of the company.
However, the company expects the following general principles to be adhered to:
- The above systems are company assets; and as such should be used for business purposes. However, personal use of the internet may take place during non work time (eg lunch breaks etc) so long as it does not interfere with an employee's performance and does not contravene the other rules laid out below.
- It is in the interests of the company, and its employees, that individual members of staff are fully conversant with technological innovations such as the internet.
- A cost conscious approach should be adopted by users when determining which facility to use, and when to use it, eg email is less expensive than a phone call.
- The use of the facilities to access/distribute sexual and illegal material is strictly prohibited.
- Employees shall not allow others (including family members) to use the facilities.
- Employees shall abide by the principle of privacy with regard to other individuals' facilities, eg unless the owner has given permission, colleagues' email boxes shall not be read.
- The nature of the internet is such that it accessible to all. Therefore, information retrieved from the internet, intended to be used for decision making purposes, should be validated for authenticity before being used.
- It is a violation of company policy for any employee, including system administrator (other than for system maintenance) to access information of the system without the employee's knowledge. However, access without the employee's knowledge may occur where permission has been granted by senior management when they have taken legal advice.
- The company retains the right to access and disclose information in these systems in order to protect its interests, or when required to by law. Accordingly, employees should not have any expectation of privacy regarding the use of these systems and information stored therein.
- Employees who inadvertently access information or messages that are in breach of the above should notify their senior line manager.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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