14 January 2016

Employers can monitor private messages, ECHR rules

Personnel Today

Employment partner Hilary O’Connor shares her insight with Personnel Today in an article discussing the ECHR’s landmark ruling that could give employers the right to read personal emails and online messages sent at work.

Hilary said: “Employers should not take this as a green light to snoop on their employees, as some commentators have suggested. The employer in this case had a clear, absolute ban on using its IT resources for personal matters: when the employee denied doing so, the employer could only properly investigate by reading his emails. Many employers allow, or at least tolerate, some personal email use at work so could easily find themselves on the wrong side of the law if they read personal emails without justification and a clear policy allowing them to do so.”

She added: “This case also underscores the link between human rights and data privacy, as data hacks continue to hit the headlines. Claims under human rights law are just one risk to business if employee or customer data is hacked and they can’t show they’ve taken sufficient precautions.” 

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