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Newham Council have very kindly provided this, their policy on e-mail and telephone use

The Golden Rule - when in doubt, ask permission

Public Service

The equipment and facilities we use in the course of our jobs are not ours
or even 'the Council's' - they are public property and that places a very
special responsibility on each one of us.

Our Duty

All council employees have a clear duty not to waste time during working
hours or misuse facilities in any way that could undermine public
confidence. What does this mean in practice?


Misuse of facilities

At one extreme it is very easy to give examples of what this means. It means
you must not:

Don't forget; It's not your definition of 'offensive' that matters. What
counts is how it would be perceived by the community at large.



At the other end of the scale we recognise that emergencies can occur.
Employees may need to be telephoned during the working day if, for example,
their child becomes ill at school or nursery. The problem is where to draw
the line between these extremes.

The simple line

The simplest line to draw would be no private phone calls (except in
emergencies) and no use of emails or internet except where this is
immediately and directly necessary to your work. When in doubt, this is the
rule you must apply unless you have specific permission from your manager to
do otherwise.


Your responsibility

Council employees are generally hard working, responsible and exercise the
'give and take' that helps to provide better services. For example, some
people remain at their desks at lunchtime or work long hours. Such practices
can lead to 'grey areas' where it would be more convenient to the employee
and waste less time overall for the council if, for example, a query over a
gas bill was resolved by a quick phone call during the day.

Similarly, using the lunch break to scan general data on the internet might
be helpful to an employee's general knowledge and development, but not
immediately relevant to the task in hand.

We do not want to discourage such arrangements without good reason, but if
you wish to depart from the simple line spelt out above, it is your
responsibility to get permission and ensure that you do not cost the council
money or act in a way that could be interpreted as wasting time, money or
abusing facilities.


Helpful hints - telephones

Do's Don'ts

Ask yourself, is it really necessary to phone from work?
Check the location of available pay phones
Tell colleagues when you are taking a break at your desk
Discourage incoming calls but tell your supervisor if extra calls are
unavoidable (eg at a critical stage of a house purchase)
Tell your friends and family that you aren't allowed to chat from your work
phone Make 'non local' calls or calls to mobiles without permission
Make private calls in peak hours
Use your work phone to chat to friends
Make costly calls (eg long, non-local or to mobile phones) without telling
the switchboard and arranging to pay
Give your work phone number in an advert to sell your car


Helpful hints - email and internet

Do's Don'ts

Ask your supervisor's permission if you want to check news bulletins /
economic indicators etc at lunchtime Send any unnecessary emails inside or
outside the council

The Golden Rule - when in doubt, ask permission



All employees are expected to monitor their own departures from the 'simple
line' to ensure there is no abuse of the privilege. The council will
undertake periodic monitoring. Monitoring of telephone calls will respect
privacy and avoid 'listening in'. Summary reports on calls made and received
are provided on a regular basis and managers can request more detailed
analyses listing numbers dialed, durations, times and costs of calls.


If you do not comply with these guidelines, it will be regarded as a breach
of the Council's rules of performance and conduct, which could result in
disciplinary action.


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