Email Quarantining Policy Adopted

Published on 12 October 2017

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At this evening’s Council meeting the Electronic Communications (E-mail Quarantine) Policy was adopted by Horowhenua District Council.

The policy was created following a resolution by the Finance, Audit and Risk Subcommittee for Council to develop a policy framework designed to protect staff and others with an HDC email address from inappropriate emails.

Deputy Mayor Wayne Bishop said the policy clearly sets out Council’s processes and will be easily visible for the community.

“This policy has been created because of the inappropriate actions of a handful of people. Council’s process for dealing with inappropriate emails is now transparent and clear for all to see – and we are one of the first Council’s in New Zealand to make our process clear.

“For the majority of people who communicate electronically with Council, this policy will not change a thing for them. Thankfully, the vast majority of people treat Officer’s with respect.”

Deputy Mayor Bishop says the policy does not apply to elected members and they will not be subject to Council’s quarantining processes.

“Instead, Elected Members will make their own decisions about how they deal with inappropriate or abusive emails from individuals.”

The policy outlines three categories of breaches, minor, major and extreme and defines each one. If an officer deems an email to be a minor or major breach, they can refer it to a Privacy Officer who will determine whether it breaches the policy. Depending on whether the sender has previously breached the policy and to what extreme, will depend on whether the person is added to the quarantine list and the length of time.

Horowhenua District Council Acting Chief Executive Gallo Saidy said each time a person breaches the policy, an email will be sent informing them of the breach, the policy and potential consequences.

“This policy balances Council’s obligations as an employer with responsibilities for the health and safety of our Officers and an individuals’ rights.”

“We are very proud of our hard-working multi-cultural workforce who are doing their very best for the people of Horowhenua. It is only right that as their employer we protect them and enable them to be able to carry out their duties in a safe environment, said Mr Saidy.  

The full policy will be available on Council’s website from 12 October 2017.

It was developed by a working group of officers who had knowledge of the relevant legislation. The policy will now be referred to the Office of the Ombudsman and Local Government New Zealand for consideration, and it may change subject to feedback.

Alongside this, HDC has reviewed its Social Media Policy which has been adopted by Council’s Leadership Team. The policy outlines how abusive and inappropriate comments on Council’s social media platforms will be dealt with and will also be available on Council’s website.