How should HR deal with employees looking at adult content in the workplace?
Posted on 6th June 2022 at 15:02
Last week, the news that Conservative MP Neil Parish had been caught watching pornography in the House of Commons caused shock and disbelief, with experts warning any employers facing similar situations to act quickly or risk facing harassment claims.
The Member of Parliament for Tiverton and Honiton was reported by two female MPs, who had seen him watching adult content in the House on two separate occasions. In an interview with the BBC over the weekend, Parish admitted that he had been watching porn and announced that he was resigning from the party and standing down as MP.
Parish blamed the first incident on technical issues, claiming he was looking at tractors and ended up on “another website [with] a very similar name”. But, he admitted that the second incident, which occurred while he was waiting for a vote, was “deliberate” and “a moment of madness”.
Daniel Zona, employment associate at Collyer Bristow, said that watching porn in the workplace will usually see any employee dismissed without notice, and cautioned that delaying action could leave employers vulnerable to harassment claims. “Female colleagues will understandable feel deeply uncomfortable if they see a male colleague openly watching pornography,” he said. Zona added that watching adult content at work would almost certainly breach IT policies, which should “explicitly state that the watching or downloading of pornographic material will be considered an act of gross misconduct”, whether on workplace or personal devices.
The actions of removing a MP for this kind will be of a different nature of the actions of a HR process - which requires processes to be followed and adhered to. Would you have the correct processes in place to manage a situation like this? Creating positive working environment policies which apply to all levels of employees will set out the expectations of the business and hopefully prevent this type of incident happening in your work place.
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