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Email quarantine: getting it right

Email quarantine: getting it right

Email quarantine: getting it right

Wednesday 28 November, 2018

Councils, like other employers, have obligations to protect their employees from harm.  Quarantining abusive or offensive emails is one method of doing so.  However, Councils must tread carefully.  

In a recent report, the Chief Ombudsman was highly critical of Horowhenua District Council’s previous approach to quarantining emails to staff.  Emails from several senders were re-routed to the Chief Executive.  The Council had no policy about quarantining emails and its practices were unreasonable.  Many emails did not reach the intended recipient despite not being abusive.  In several cases there was no record of the reasons why a person’s emails had been quarantined.  The Chief Ombudsman noted that in respect of three individuals it was difficult to identify a clear basis to suggest that Council had grounds to add them to the quarantine list.  Several people were not notified that their emails were being quarantined.  In some cases the quarantine went on for several years without review. 

The Chief Ombudsman emphasised that poor record keeping practices fundamentally undermine the operation of LGOIMA and reduce transparency and accountability. Horowhenua has now implemented a quarantine policy which addresses the Chief Ombudsman’s concerns. 

For assistance with abusive complainants, including email quarantine policies, please contact Megan Crocket or Kate Cornegé

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