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Blog  »  January 2016  »  Accessing employee emails, what you need to know. - Blog
Jan 16

Posted by
Laura Murphy

Accessing employee emails, what you need to know.

As an employer you have the right to monitor your employees’ work phone calls, emails and internet access on company devices. This was reaffirmed recently in a case heard by the European Court of Human Rights (Barbulescu v Romania). In reaching their decision, the Court was heavily influenced by the company’s internal policies, banning the use of company property for personal purposes and informing all employees that surveillance would take place.

What does this case mean for employers?

  • Comprehensive Internet Policies: it is a must for employers to have internet usage policies in place. These policies should clearly state the rules on how employees should use the internet, as well as how monitoring is conducted. All policies should be clearly communicated to staff. 
  • Regular Reviews: the world of communication is fast moving; company policies should be regularly reviewed to take account of this and tailored to meet the needs of individual organisations.
  • Monitoring: monitoring of email and internet usage should never be done covertly. In order to avoid a culture of mistrust in the workplace, monitoring should be done cautiously, ideally only where an employer can show that they had specific reasons for doing so e.g. as part of a disciplinary investigation. 
  • Personal Equipment: Whilst monitoring can be done on work devices employers are not permitted to monitor an employee’s own personal device. In some workplaces the use of personal equipment can be disruptive and often a health and safety issue. In managing this issue employers are advised to consider separate policies outlining when such equipment may be used. 

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Posted in Social Media, Staff Handbook