Time wasting and resources


Network resources such as storage space and capacity to carry traffic are not unlimited. However your time and that of your colleagues is the most valuable resource available to the Office.


You must not deliberately perform acts which waste your own and your colleagues time or computer resources. These acts include


  • Playing games
  • Online chat groups
  • Uploading / Downloading large unofficial files which create unnecessary non-business related loads on network traffic
  • Accessing streaming audio / video files, for example, listening to music or watching movie clips
  • Forwarding audio / video files to colleagues
  • Participating in mass non-business related mailings such as chain letters
  • Sending unofficial attachments


Financial Implications


Do not download any material / software from the Internet for which a registration fee is charged without first obtaining the express permission of the Office. Only the software installed by IT Division, and therefore listed on the Offices Assets Register, is deemed to be legally sourced by the Office and covered by the appropriate licence agreement. No other software is approved for use on any of the Offices computers or laptops.




You are responsible for the use of the facilities granted in your name. The main protection at present is your password. Make it difficult to guess and above all, do not share your password with anyone, write it down or give it out over the phone. If you think someone knows your password, ask for it to be changed as soon as possible. Maintaining the privacy of your password is your responsibility and consequently you are responsible for any abuses taking place using your name and password.


In general do not leave your computer unattended without securing the session by password or signing off.


When leaving your pc unattended press Ctrl Alt Del (in the same way as logging into your pc) and click the “Lock workstation / Lock computer” box. On return press Ctrl Alt Del and enter your password to log back into the pc.


Users accessing the Internet through a computer attached to the Office’s network must do so through an approved Internet firewall or other security device. Bypassing the Office’s computer network security by accessing the Internet directly by modem or other means is strictly prohibited.


You are reminded that files obtained from sources outside the Office, including disks brought from home, files downloaded from the Internet, news groups, bulletin boards or other online services and files attached to e-mail messages may contain computer viruses that may damage the Office’s computer network. While the Office is continually upgrading its virus protection infrastructure, the potential introduction of viruses on the Office system always remains a threat. All incoming material, regardless of origin, should be virus checked before being used on any PC on the Office’s network. This is not paranoia : a wide variety of viruses from a wide range of individuals and organisations have been blocked over the last 12 months. This threat is real and will not be diminishing. If you suspect that a virus has been introduced into the Office’s network, notify the IT Section immediately.


The Internet is not secure. Whether by e-mail or via the World Wide web, do not give out more information than is necessary to fulfil your purpose. Beware of demands for unnecessary information. Be wary of sites which request more data than is necessary for accessing the site or for making a transaction, or which do not tell you why they require this data from you. In particular, no information on IT systems or resources should be disclosed over the Internet or through e-mail without authorisation from IT Division.


External e-mail should only be used to transmit unclassified information to individuals outside the Office. Classified or confidential material should not be sent by e-mail unless it is encrypted.




All web browsing is logged. Screening software prevents access to certain non-work related sites. The logs of web browsing will only be accessed with management authorisation, where there are reasonable grounds to believe that this policy has been contravened.


Personal Use


Just as with the phone, a small amount of limited personal use of e-mail and Internet facilities is permitted if such use does not otherwise infringe this policy.


Freedom of Information and Archives Acts (only applies to public bodies)


Incoming and outgoing e-mail's which are of “enduring organisational interest” are records under the above Acts and must not be kept in your e-mail account. They must be transferred to the appropriate document library or file.


Data Protection Access Requests for Personnel Records


Under section 4 of the Data Protection Acts, 1988 and 2003, you have a right to obtain a copy, clearly explained, of any information relating to you kept on computer or in a structured manual filing system, by any person or organization, regardless of when the data was created. The procedure for making an access request is explained in the section “know your rights”.


The Acts apply to data held on computer and manual data in a “relevant filing system” and, as such, personnel records will, therefore, normally come within the terms of the Acts. No issues should generally arise in respect of access requests made for most personnel records. This note seeks to address access requests for data relating to:


  • discipline, grievance and dismissal
  • appraisal and performance reports
  • medical reports


1. Discipline, grievance and dismissal


It is not the purpose of this note to provide guidance as to how disciplinary, grievance or dismissal procedures should be conducted. However, in relation to creating and keeping records, HR staff should be conscious of the accuracy requirement and that data kept should be “adequate, relevant and not excessive”. The right of access supports fair procedures and natural justice which provide that an individual be made aware of the case s/he has to answer.


The general rule is that an employee has a right of access to personal data relating to him/her in connection with discipline, grievance and dismissal procedures, even if the disciplinary procedure is on-going or the subject of legal proceedings such as an unfair dismissals claim. There are however some limitations and exemptions to this right which are provided in Sections 4 & 5 of the Acts. These limitations and exemptions include:


(i) Opinions given in confidence


Section 4(4A) provides that personal data containing expressions of opinion about the data subject may be given to the data subject without the permission of the person who expressed that opinion but this does not include opinions “given in confidence or on the understanding that it would be treated as confidential”


An opinion given in confidence on the understanding that it will be kept confidential must satisfy a high threshold of confidentiality. Simply placing the word “confidential” at the top of a page will not automatically render the data confidential. The Commissioner will look at the data and its context and will need to be satisfied that the data would not otherwise have been given but for this understanding. Supervisors and managers will not normally be able to rely on the provision as it is an expected part of their role to give opinions on staff which they should be capable of standing over. On the other hand, a colleague who reports a matter relating to an individual in confidence to a supervisor could be expected to be protected by the confidentiality provision.


(ii) Professional legal privilege


The right of access does not apply to data - "in respect of which a claim of privilege could be maintained in proceedings in a court in relation to communications between a client and his professional legal advisers or between those advisers."” (Section 5(g))


Accordingly, the subject access provisions in section 4 of the Acts do not apply to personal data where the circumstances are such that a claim of privilege could be maintained in court proceedings in relation to communications between a client and his professional legal advisers or between those advisers. This is a very limited exemption which only applies in connection with the provision of legal advice or in anticipation or furtherance of litigation.


(iii) Protecting the source of data


Section 4(1)(a)(iii)(II) provides that the source of the data does not have to be provided if to do so would be contrary to the public interest. This would apply in situations where revealing the source of the information would be a disincentive to others providing similar information in the future. Examples would be “whistleblowers” or the reporting of child abuse.


(iv) Investigation of an offence


If access would or potentially could prejudice a criminal investigation, access may be refused pursuant to section 5(1)(a) of the Acts. This provides that “this Act does not apply to personal data kept for the purpose of preventing, detecting or investigating offences…in any case in which the application of that section (viz. section 4) to the data would be likely to prejudice any of the matters aforesaid”.


A distinction may require to be made between an investigation to determine whether disciplinary procedures need to be invoked and the disciplinary proceedings themselves. Inevitably, certain complaints arising in a workplace will require to be investigated and until such time as the investigation is completed, data prepared in connection with the investigation would, if disclosed at a juncture not provided for in the process itself, be likely to prejudice the effectiveness and fairness of the investigative process. In such circumstances, the provisions of section 5(1)(a) of the Acts, quoted above, may be relied on and the data is not liable to be disclosed. When such an investigation is completed, the risk of prejudice no longer arises and the application of section 5(i)(a) should be set aside.


(v) Other exemptions under Section 5


Section 5 also provides exemptions from access in other circumstances including:


  • estimates of liability in respect of a compensation claim
  • back-up data



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