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Companies are more open to online shopping during work hours

It's the holiday season -- and as such, that means it's time to start shopping for gifts. With every passing holiday season, more and more people take to the internet to get their holiday shopping done. No lines; less hassle; more convenient; really, what more could a holiday shopper ask for?

How does this in any way relate to employment law? Well, there are undoubtedly many people in Houston who are browsing online retailers to find the best items and deals. And many of them are searching for that perfect gift while they are at work.

This can create serious problems, as your employer may not look so kindly on your decision to shop rather than work. According to a study by a staffing agency, nearly 60 percent of the chief information officers interviewed said their company blocked online shopping sites in 2011. This year, that number dropped to 33 percent.

So the trend is become more accepted, though many companies aren't allowing unfettered access. Roughly 55 percent of CIOs interviewed in the same study said they allowed online shopping during work, but that the employee's internet use is monitored.

As the days tick by, more and more people will be jumping online to make their holiday purchases. So if you need to shop while at work, there are a few things you can do to protect yourself from serious workplace consequences.

First, know you company's policy regarding online shopping in the workplace. You need to know the exact policy so that you can comply with the rule. Second, do you best to limit aimlessly surfing. It may be fun to look through all the items and deals; but during work hours, that is not a good idea. Last, but not least, if you can wait to make those online purchases when you are at home, it is probably in your best interests.

Source: San Antonio Business Journal, "Shopping at work? More employers are allowing it," James Aldridge, Nov. 26, 2012

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