Monitoring of personal messages

Gillian Melville
19th Jan 2016

A high-profile decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) was handed down last week in relation to the right to privacy. Specifically, the ECtHR was asked to consider whether an employer breached an employee’s right to privacy when the employer accessed personal emails sent by the employee through a work-related messaging account.

 

Employment law time off work

A high-profile decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) was handed down last week in relation to the right to privacy. Specifically, the ECtHR was asked to consider whether an employer breached an employee’s right to privacy when the employer accessed personal emails sent by the employee through a work-related messaging account.

 

In this case, the employee used the employer’s IT systems and his work Yahoo messenger account to share personal messages with friends and family during working time. This was in breach of the employer’s policy, which stated that personal use of the employer’s IT systems was not permitted.

 

The employer became aware of the messages and, whilst investigating the matter, accessed and printed the private messages. After a disciplinary process, the employee was dismissed for unauthorised personal internet use at work.

 

The employee argued that his employer had breached his human rights, in particular his right to respect for his private life.

 

The ECtHR has now decided that the monitoring and use of the personal messages by the employer was a proportionate interference with the employee’s right to privacy.

 

You can read the case here

 

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