Can You Monitor Your Employees' Internet Usage?
With remote working on the rise, more and more people will be working from home. That means that employers need to be able to monitor their employees‘ use of company-owned computers, networks, and other resources. They also need to know what their employees do online during work hours.
In the U.S., it’s legal for employers to monitor their employees‘ internet usage during work hours as long as they have a good reason to do so. This reason can be anything from protecting company data or ensuring that employees aren’t wasting time when they should be working.
When it comes to monitoring employees‘ internet usage, you need to consider and check a few things first. We’ll talk about the legality of this practice, what type of software is best to use, and more. Let’s get started!
How To Monitor Your Employee’s Internet Usage
If you’re looking to monitor your employees‘ internet usage, there are two main ways to do it:
- Configuring Your Router. You’ll want to look for a setting that allows you to specify which devices can connect to the network and how much bandwidth they’re allowed. Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to compare their actual usage against what they’ve been allotted.
- Using an Employee Computer Monitoring Software. Employee computer monitoring software is useful for much more than just keeping track of a list of websites visited; for instance, some programs can track keystrokes and take real-time images of users‘ screens.
The United States Allows Employee Monitoring
The U.S. has some of the world’s most relaxed employee monitoring laws. If you’re an employer, there’s a good chance you have the right to monitor your workers‘ activities on their work devices—and they might not even know it!
The only requirement is that you have valid business reasons for doing so. The good news is that this requirement can be met for pretty much any reason: from simple performance management to attempts to prevent fraud and theft, or even just because you want to make sure your employees are working hard enough.
As far as federal legislation goes, there are no legal requirements for employers to inform their workers that they’re being monitored, but some states establish consent as a requirement.
Is It Legal to Monitor Employees' Internet Usage?
In general, an employer has the right to monitor how much time an employee spends online during work hours. The laws in the United States permit an employer to monitor internet usage, including the websites visited and the amount of time spent online during work hours, and even to impose restrictions on websites.
However, there are some limitations to what an employer can do:
- An employer cannot monitor your personal emails or other personal communication without your consent. Employers can only monitor your personal emails if you permit them or if they have an employee handbook that clearly states that you have given them permission.
- An employer cannot monitor the information you store on your personal computer or phone. Unless there is a reasonable suspicion that you have violated company policy and/or committed a crime while using company resources, employers cannot monitor what you store on your personal devices.
- An employer cannot monitor your browsing history. Unless there is reasonable suspicion that you have violated company policy and/or committed a crime while using company resources, an employer cannot check your personal browsing history.
Also, keep in mind that if you monitor your employees‘ internet usage, make sure you have a clear policy in place that states what is and isn’t allowed on company devices. You need to ensure this policy is accessible and easy for everyone involved to read and understand before it goes into effect so no one gets surprised by anything later on down the road!
Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) was enacted in 1986 and has been used to protect companies‘ rights to monitor their employees‘ computer usage. The act provides employers with the legal framework for employee tracking and control procedures.
In addition to using technology for monitoring purposes, an employer may also legally read an employee’s emails if they are on company time or using company equipment. This also applies if an employee works from home on a company laptop.
The Stored Communications Act (SCA), which is its Title II, affirms the employer’s right to review documents, files, and other data created by employees during work hours. However, it must be supported by valid business reasons.
Best Software for Internet Usage Monitoring
Every day, businesses worldwide struggle with one problem: how to keep their employees from wasting company time. The answer? Employee monitoring software.
Luckily, many types of employee monitoring software are on the market now, but choosing the best one can take a lot of work. There’s no time like the present to start using one of these programs so you can get a better idea of what your employees are up to when they’re supposed to be working!
Before deciding which monitoring software to use, there are many things to consider because you want to ensure you’re getting the best possible experience. That’s why we’ve put together this list of essential features of employee monitoring software:
- Live Screen Monitoring. It should be possible for you to monitor on live computer screens using the Internet and a web browser. Additionally, it’s preferable if you can save or archive the screen captures so you can watch the recordings later.
- Regular Screenshots. No more guesswork! With this feature, you’ll never have to wonder whether or not your employees are working hard; the software should take regular screenshots so you can see exactly what’s happening at all times.
- Check Visited Websites and Surfing Behavior. This will ensure that no one is visiting anything inappropriate!
- Run Invisibly and Start at Windows Startup. The last thing you want is for someone to uninstall your monitoring software because it doesn’t work well with their computer or slows down too much, so it’s good if the tool runs invisibly and starts at Windows startup.
Look no further than Wolfeye Remote Screen if you’re looking for employee monitoring software with all the above features! This tool can monitor employees‘ and kids‘ internet usage and prevent unwanted PC access!
To sum it up, employers monitor their employees‘ internet usage for many reasons—from protecting company data to ensuring that employees aren’t wasting time when they should be working. In the end, employers are within their rights to monitor their employees‘ internet usage during work hours, as long as they have a legitimate purpose for doing so.
- Time Doctor: Employee Monitoring Laws Explained
- Nanoglobals: Can My Boss See What Websites I Visit?
- LexisNexis: Stored Communications Act: Practical Considerations
- Work Time: 19 Most Asked Questions on U.S. Employee Monitoring Laws
- Business News Daily: Spying on Your Employees? Better Understand the Law First
- Proofhub: 11 Best Employee Monitoring Software You Can Use in 2023
- Los Angeles Times: So Your Employer Is Monitoring You. What You Should Know
- BJA: Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA)