City Council Employees Banned from Using Facebook

September 11, 2009 ( - The Portsmouth (UK) City Council has banned Facebook for all employees.

The Council made the decision this month after it discovered members of its 4,500 staff clocked up 572 hours – the equivalent of 71 working days – on the site in just four weeks, according to Personnel Today . Kay White, head of HR at the City Council, told Personnel Today

She said the recent review of Internet policy was partly prompted by questions from staff about what Web sites were appropriate to visit.

Answering the charge that banning the site outright risks making the Council look old-fashioned, particularly as young people have admitted they use the site to forge business relationships and communicate with peers, White said: “Far from being perceived as an out-of-touch organization, we in fact understand that most staff wanting to access social networking sites do so via their own personal technology, such as iPods and mobile phones, and their use isn’t restricted.”

She added that where business areas had reasons to use the site for marketing purposes, the restrictions would be lifted.

A recent U.S. study found that employers are losing an average of 1.47% in total employee productivity when employees are allowed to use social networking sites. While on average users spend 15 minutes of work time on Facebook each day, some employees reported spending upwards of two hours (see Social “Notworking’s” Costs ).