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Looked at porn? The boss can't just fire you (if you're Dutch)

Where's the code of conduct

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Employees in the Netherlands can't be sacked for downloading Internet pornography onto office computers unless there is a clear code of conduct, according to the Dutch legal trade magazine People Planet Profit, which conducted research on the subject.

Judges are demanding from companies that they have to set out clearly what can and cannot be done on company time and company equipment in order to dismiss employees.

Only large companies have such a code of practice; smaller ones often don't. These businesses will not have much luck in the court room, according to judges cited by the Dutch magazine. And that's the trend almost everywhere in Europe.

In the UK, "email and net abuse" is now the top reason why employees face the sack.

In the UK companies also must have a clear code of conduct over internet and email usage if they are to avoid being sued for wrongful dismissal.

A draft Directive on privacy in the workplace by the European Commission may also hold back companies to sue their employees for surfing porn sites.

The directive will regulate all aspects of employee privacy and govern requirements on the monitoring of Internet and email usage in the workplace. The idea is that the employer is better served by preventing internet and email abuse than in detecting it.

Continuous monitoring should be permitted only if necessary for health, safety, security or the protection of property; and workers should be informed and consulted before the introduction of any system likely to be used for monitoring.

In other words, peeking at porn may still get you in trouble, but at least you know you're being watched. ®

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