A recent decision from the European Court of Rights (Bărbulescu v. Romania) has confirmed that it is legitimate for an employer to monitor employees’ personal communications at work to establish if a work account is being used for personal purposes.
Mr Bărbulescu used his business Yahoo Messenger account to send and receive personal messages to his fiancé and his brother. This was in breach of his contract of employment and his employer, having accidentally discovered these personal messages, subsequently dismissed him. The Court decided the employer’s monitoring of Mr Bărbulescu’s personal communications was not in breach of his right to privacy under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
There are a number of important points both employers and employees should note as a result of this decision:
- Employers should ensure policies and procedures are in place in relation to employee communications and ensure employees are aware of the terms.
- Employers may monitor employees’ communications where there is an appropriate policy and procedure in place to do so.
- Employers do not have an unfettered right to monitor employee communications, this must be approached in a reasonable and proportionate manner.
- Employees should recognise that what they regard as private communications may not in fact be considered private by their employers and approach with caution accordingly.
We regularly draft policies and procedures for employers and would be happy to assist any employers considering introducing such policies or revising any existing policies.
We are also able to advise on any other aspect of employment law. You can contact us on 0141 221 4488 or visit our homepage.