For the study, ST Press, the magazine of Sweden’s largest white-collar civil service union, asked 50 public agencies about their policies regarding employee email and internet use.
Of the 39 organizations which responded to the questionnaire, nearly 90 percent said they allow workers to use workplace computers for personal matters.
But five agencies – the Rail Administration (Banverket), the Migration Board (Migrationsverket), the National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), as well as the county administrative boards for Jämtland and Blekinge – don’t allow workers to use the internet for any private matters whatsoever while on the job.
Harald Troive, a lawyer with the Rail Administration said employees are expected to use “common sense” when surfing the internet at work.
“The agency’s computers and telephones should be used for company business and not for private matters,” he told ST Press.
“There have been a few clear cases of abuse.”
The ST Press survey also revealed that six out of ten agencies monitor employee internet use and email habits, although the extent of the monitoring varies greatly from one agency to another.
While four public employers said they monitor all internet use by employees, most instead perform random checks or extract data from extensive logs of internet use.
Most of the regular checks are not carried out on specific individuals, except in cases involving a possible breach of workplace policy or possible suspected criminal activity.
Monitoring of email use is less common than that of web surfing, with only one in three employers reporting that they regulate workers’ email use.
Each employer also has its own policy for the extent to which personal business can be conducted from company email accounts.
While the Enforcement Agency (Kronofogden) allows employees to send private emails, it urges workers to do so as seldom as possible. Private emails are to be erased continually, and the agency blocks employees from forwarding incoming messages to private email accounts.