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Porn equals P45

Workers who slack off to surf the net face the sack

Surfing the internet to book your holiday, plan a night out or have a sneaky peek at some porn, may be more fun than working, but employers are catching on to their staff's internet skiving habits.

A study conducted by internet filtering firm Websense, which questioned more than 500 HR (human resource) managers, found that as many as a quarter had dismissed employees for internet misconduct.

Surfing for online porn was the most common reason for employee sackings — accounting, rather appropriately, for 69 percent of dismissals. After pornography, web chatrooms (26 percent) and sending personal emails (23 percent) were the next most frequent internet-based diversions for staff.

But canning someone for surfing rather than slaving can be expensive for bosses. "Dismissing an employee for internet misuse is a substantial cost to the employer," explains Jonathan Naylor, barrister for the employment group of legal firm Morgan Cole.

"While there are the obvious costs of advertising for [a replacement], recruitment and training, there are also additional financial burdens caused by the interruption to work patterns, the damage to morale and the negative publicity as a result of the dismissal," said Naylor.

A study by law firm IDS Brief found the cost of replacing key staff could be as much as 150 percent of the employee's annual salary.

Perhaps, if employers allowed employees to use the internet at work for personal use during their lunch hours and breaks, then everyone could save money in the long run.

But HR managers don't agree. According to a second Websense survey, which again questioned personnel heads, a maximum of 20 minutes a day was agreed to be an acceptable time for employees to spend surfing the internet for personal activities. This same survey shows that currently that time is nearer 30 minutes.


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