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PSA seeking fair guidelines on Internet use

Media release
State sector and industrial relations reporters

PSA seeking fair guidelines on Internet use

The PSA is talking to the State Services Commission about the need for public service guidelines that ensure a fair and consistent response to any cases of alleged Internet misuse, with proper training for staff to minimise risks.

National secretary Richard Wagstaff says the recent furore has highlighted the range of disciplinary actions meted out. “They run the gamut from no action taken to dismissal. All public servants have the right to due process and to know they are not being harshly treated because of where they work or their place in the pecking order.

“The PSA holds no brief for inappropriate use of the Internet at work. Exploring sex sites on a work computer is simply not acceptable, nor is it conducive to a safe and healthy work environment.”

However this is not to suggest that when it comes to the Internet, good employment practice does not have to apply, he says. “Employees need to be clear not only about the consequences of deliberately accessing pornographic sites but also what steps to take if they open them by mistake, as can happen.”

Richard Wagstaff says it would be unfortunate if a climate of fear, rather than common sense, was to develop around Internet use.

“It would be a retrograde step if employees became too scared to use the Internet, or if employers decided to place a blanket ban on all personal use. This would be harking back to the days when you weren’t allowed to use the phone to call home.

“The demarcation line between work and home has blurred as demands on employees have increased. Computers are now an item on virtually every office desk. Used properly, they give access to a magnificent research tool and can be a cheap and effective way of helping us organise our increasingly complicated lives.”

He says the outcry surrounding Internet use has been useful in alerting everyone to the fact that accessing a website leaves a footprint that can be tracked.

“The PSA is calling for a rational and balanced approach that recognises the benefits of the Internet whilst dealing effectively and consistently with its less savoury aspects.”


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