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Big Brother

Employers sometimes find themselves in a position where they have a concern about an employee’s activities. Are they stealing confidential information and preparing to compete for example?


Can employers monitor an employee’s email account when it has such suspicions? Due to a decision last year by the European Court of Human Rights we thought that the answer was yes. However the case of Barbulescu v Romania has been appealed to the Grand Chamber and the answer is now possibly not.


The decision of the Chamber of the ECHR was overturned and the Grand Chamber found that workers have a right to expect privacy in the workplace and therefore if an employer is going to monitor emails and messages then the workers should be told (save in exceptional circumstances) that their communications might be monitored. In this particular case, the employee knew it was forbidden to use work computers for personal reasons, but not that his employer was monitoring his communications.


It is important therefore that employees are informed in their Contract of Employment or a policy document such as an email policy that the employer may monitor their communications in the workplace.


For further information on this, or any other employment matter, please speak to Guy Salter on 01905 723 561 or email

Added: 21 Sep 2017 11:38

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