Using Personal Email for Work? 4 Concerns for Business Owners
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in hot water for using a personal email account for work purposes. What can business owners learn from this news?
During her time at the State Department, Hillary Clinton broke protocol and used a personal email account rather than a government email account to conduct her correspondence. This may have violated a federal requirement that all official correspondences must be retained as government records, CNN Money reports.
Do you have a rule prohibiting employees using personal email accounts for work? If not, here are four reasons why it's something you may want to consider:
1. It's Unprofessional.
Consider email addresses as part of the uniform that your employees wear. Personal email addresses are not always very professional. Email addresses such as firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com can hurt your corporate image and make clients think twice about doing business with you.
2. Lack of Control.
If your employees are dealing with sensitive client information or company secrets, you won't be able to control whom they send it to. An unhappy employee could severely hurt your business and expose you to legal liability by disseminating confidential client information that they have saved in their personal email. With a business email account, you can change the password and end employees' access once they've left your company.
3. Lack of Records.
One of the main reasons why Hillary Clinton's personal email use is such a faux pas is because of record-keeping concerns. In Clinton's case, federal law requires all letter and emails written and received by federal officials to be retained as government records. Government email accounts have procedures in place that contemporaneously keep a record of all emails; personal email accounts do not.
If your employees conduct all their business with clients through their personal email, you could lose access to all of that information when the employee leaves.
4. Security and Viruses.
You may have your company email set up to combat email viruses, but your employees' personal email accounts may not have that level of protection. One employee opening up an email virus on a company computer can leave you and your entire business vulnerable.
Follow FindLaw for Consumers on Google+.
- Should Employees Be Allowed to Use Their Own Devices for Work? (The Wall Street Journal)
- 7 Ways Your E-mail Can Get You Fired (U.S. News)
- How Private Are Personal Emails Sent Via Employer Computers? (FindLaw's Technologist)
- Is It Legal for Your Boss to Read Your Email? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.