Nearly one in five companies have fired staff for viewing
internet porn while at work, according to the latest figures.
The survey of 544 large HR departments
conducted by Websense found that a quarter of firms
have sacked workers for internet misuse. Of these sackings
the vast majority were for internet pornography.
Three quarters of companies have
dealt with cases of internet misuse at some point. After
internet pornography, the most common problems were chat
rooms or excessive personal emailing. Twenty-three per cent
of firms have sacked staff as a result of problems.
Lisa Harris, employment solicitor
for law firm Morgan Cole, said: "In most cases employers
have no choice but to dismiss people who have breached company
rules. In addition employers will do so to avoid the real
risk of claims by other members of staff who could claim
sexual harassment if offensive material is being sent around
"Problems of that type can
end up being very high profile and seriously damage a company's
... Websense, who commissioned
the survey, said companies can help reduce the problems
- and their legal liability - by introducing filtering and
monitoring of employee computer behaviour.
David Lester, CEO of Crimson Publishing,
recently sacked two employees for downloading pornography
from the web, and sending it on to staff and clients via
Lester said their actions explicitly
ignored company policy and the employees had to be dealt
"Material of this kind is prone
to be virus infected, other staff find it offensive, and
it can badly damage our reputation in the outside world,"
he said. "One of the people we had to let go was actually
a very good salesman. So while I regret having to do it,
it doesn't mean I want to change my mind."