Before you use your company's phone, e-mail, or Internet service, it's in your best interest to make sure that you're aware of the company's policy regarding the use of electronic communications in the workplace. Doing so will allow you to find out what restrictions your employer places on the use of its electronic equipment and services and to what extent your employer may be monitoring usage. For example, some companies have policies that limit the use of phones, e-mail, and the Internet to only business purposes. They may reserve the right to monitor their employees for inappropriate use and discipline those who violate the policy. Other companies may have less restrictive policies and allow employees to use electronic communications equipment for personal reasons as long as it's used responsibly. They may also choose not to engage in monitoring activities at all. Whatever policy a company has regarding the use and monitoring of electronic communications in the workplace, it must honor that policy consistently. For example, if an employer explicitly states that employees will be notified when telephone monitoring takes place, the employer must adhere to that policy. Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, employers have the legal responsibility of basing their electronic communications policies on legitimate business interests, informing employees in writing what their privileges are, and telling them to what extent monitoring will take place.

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