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Tuesday
Nov302010

Cybershopping Yourself Out of a Job?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Office workers went online Monday en masse, using their employers' time to shop for everything from fruitcakes to holiday vacations, but what many such buyers fail to realize is that they may also be buying themselves a one-way ticket to the unemployment line.

Cyber Monday spending was projected to top $950 million, with 60 percent of customers shopping from work. A Shop.org survey released last week estimated 70 million Americans will shop from work at some point during this holiday season.

As much as Cyber Monday is a boon to retailers, it's a headache to employers who expect workers to work.

Most employers prohibit using office time and office computers for any sort of personal use, including shopping. Employees expressly agree to those terms when they sign employment contracts.

Yet according to a recent survey by CareerBuilder.com, 29 percent of workers say they have shopped online during past holidays, and 27 percent said that this year they intended to spend an hour or more; 13 percent said two hours or more.

All that shopping doesn't go unnoticed. Forty-seven percent of employers monitor employees' online activity, while 21 percent have fired employees for general Internet misuse, and five percent specifically for holiday shopping.

"Even if employers allow online shopping, employees should use good judgment and not abuse the privilege," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology. "Excessive shopping is a red flag that could put someone's job at risk."

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