US employers have wildly differing views on whether staff should use the Internet for personal reasons and some even warn that they will sack offending employees on the spot.
According to a survey of Internet usage in the workplace by US online career services firm Vault.com, the majority of the 1,244 employees polled admit that they surf the Web constantly during work time.
Another 47 per cent said they send between one and five personal emails each day, while almost two per cent said they send more than 20 per day.
In contrast, 27 per cent of the 1,438 employers surveyed said staff should only be allowed to surf the Internet for 30 minutes each day, although they agreed that it is acceptable for workers to send up to five personal emails per day.
Some 31 per cent of companies admit that they monitor or restrict workers from using the Net, and a few said they keep daily logs of all online activities.
Some bosses also revealed that they are prepared to take drastic action against employees surfing non work-related sites. "It is part of our company policy and is communicated to all new associates during orientation," said one employer. Staff will be "terminated on the spot" if they abuse this policy, he added.
Despite the majority of employees admitting that they go online for personal reasons, an overwhelming 57 per cent believe that the activity decreases productivity, while the same number said bosses have the right to monitor Net usage.
However, 24 per cent said they take precautionary measures to avoid detection. "I always have my fingers on the alt+tab buttons, so I can switch to another work-related application quickly," said one worker.
On the issue of sexually-explicit material on the Web or improper emails, 15 per cent of employees admit that they sometimes receive such material. "I once found a worker looking at an adult site. Needless to say that he is now gone," said one employer.
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