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Right to spy on employees

 17 February 2016  

European employees should think carefully about using the internet to send private messages during office hours after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in January that companies do have the right to spy on their staff’s work emails and online communications.

This follows on from the case of a Romanian engineer who was sacked in 2007 after using his company Yahoo Messenger to chat with his fiancée and brother; the company policy prohibited the use of messaging apps for personal use.  The ECHR dismissed the engineer’s argument that his right to confidential correspondence had been violated.

The ECHR said “it was not unreasonable that an employer would want to verify that employees were completing their professional tasks during working hours”, adding “the company had accessed the messages in the belief they contained professional communications.”

This case impacts on all countries that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights and will guide the European Union’s tribunal in future cases and rulings.

This ruling shows how important it is to have a clear policy in place documenting when employees can send personal emails from their work accounts. Employers need to be very clear about what monitoring systems they have in place and the reasoning behind these systems so that employees don’t feel like they are being spied on.

International Workplace have a dedicate HR team who provide a wide range of expert training and consultancy services. We are a CIPD accredited training centre that can help you understand the complexities of this and the other HR pitfalls; we provide our CIPD Certificate in HR Practice, CIPD Diploma in HR Practice and our popular CIPD Employment Law Award.  If you book these courses online through our secure checkout you will save 10% off the full cost.

In addition to our CIPD accredited courses we also run our own bespoke courses including our new short eLearning courses which are Equality in the Workplace and Stress and Wellbeing. These introductory courses are 30 to 40 minutes long and are designed to provide an overview of certain topics which due to the low cost can be rolled out throughout your company, the price for one learner is £25 + VAT however If you are looking to train your team we offer multi user discounts with prices starting from as little as £1 per learner, more learners = lower cost, this can be can be delivered via our online learning management system (LMS) which provides real-time progress tracking and comprehensive records management for all your learners.  For more information on any of the above or to trial any of our short eLearning courses call us on +44 (0)871 777 8881.

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