Almost half of UK companies are exposed to legal dangers by employing temporary staff who may abuse IT systems, research has claimed.
According to a poll carried out by Fast Corporate Services, if employees or temporary staff use work PCs to download pornography, access copyrighted materials or spread defamatory remarks, the organisation may fall victim to legal action.
And unauthorised software downloads mean that company directors could face up to 10 years behind bars under the principle of vicarious liability.
Some 45 per cent of UK firms are vulnerable because they do not require temps to sign the same IT policies and procedures contracts as permanent staff.
Such contracts are essential to allow employers effectively to control use of the internet, email and company networks, the study noted.
While an out-of-court settlement is often reached between defendants and software publishers, this is still very costly to the business, causing damage to the bottom line and the company's reputation, the study warned.
"Whilst we recognise that temps are no more likely to abuse company systems than any other employee, they are no less likely either," said Geoff Webster, chief executive at Fast Corporate Services.
"In order to protect the company and its directors, every employee that has access to company PCs should be made to sign a document outlining policies and procedures like anybody else. It's as simple as that."
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