Monitoring Employee Internet Use In The Workplace

Date Added 26.01.16

The European Court of Human Rights recently decided that there is no breach of the right to respect for private life and correspondence if employers are reasonable and proportionate when monitoring employees’ personal communications at work.

What is the impact of the judgement?

This judgment is noteworthy as it provides an indication that if employers implement employee policies which expressly state that any use of work computers for personal purposes is prohibited, this may enable them to access computer messages without being in breach of the employee’s human right to respect for his private and family life.

What does this mean for you?

This judgement will have particular impact on public sector employers who must comply with human rights regulations but it is also relevant to private sector employers bearing in mind that staff policies are always drafted to take into consideration such rights.

The Information Commissioner has advised employers to encourage workers to mark messages as ‘private’ or ‘personal’. This will enable employees to protect certain communications and warn employers not to open them unless there is a good reason for doing so.

In most cases, if an employer fails to warn their employees that communications are being monitored, the employees may expect privacy of such communications. Employers should, therefore, provide a warning to their employees and have it documented in their policies in order to avoid disputes about whether or not the employee was aware of it.

Need some advice?

Talk to Tollers! We are here for you.

Tollers’ Employment Law Team are here to help should you have any queries regarding employee monitoring and policy documents, do not hesitate to contact us on 01604 258558.

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