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Can your employer read your private messages?

Nowadays, you shouldn't expect the email messages you write at work to remain private.

Courts usually side with the employer when it comes to email privacy and legality aside, many employers monitor employee email.

Technology now makes it possible for employers to keep track of virtually all workplace communications by any employee and some employers take advantage of these tracking devices to read employee email.

Email and messaging using company technology isn't private.

According to a recent decision from the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), an employer can monitor an employees’ private messages at work.

This case involved an individual engaged as an engineer in Romania who had used a business Yahoo Messenger account, not only in a professional capacity but also to send personal messages to relatives.

Having become aware of the personal communications sent from the business messenger account, the employer dismissed the individual.

He subsequently argued that Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 (the right to respect for private life and correspondence) had been breached by the company.

However, this argument was dismissed by domestic courts as well as the ECHR who held that the employer was within their rights to monitor the employees’ private messages.

This is a great reminder to employees that they need to observe employer policies and standards and that a company has the right to monitor use of their IT systems.

Make sure you know of your Company policies and observe the rules to avoid potential issues in the future.


Posted on Thursday May 12