UK companies are the toughest in Europe when it comes to reprimanding their staff for inappropriate use of the internet.

A survey by Websense found that employers in the UK were five times more likely to take disciplinary action than Italian employers and two-and-a-half times more likely to take action than their counterparts in France and Germany.

Half of the companies surveyed were found to be doing nothing to address the problem of internet misuse, but the figure varied from country to country. Sixty-seven per cent of companies in the UK have an internet access policy, compared to only 33% in France.

Nearly three quarters of staff felt it was acceptable to have their internet use managed, with UK and German workers the most in favour.

Favourite uses of the web among employees included booking holidays, visiting virtual shops and watching sports events.