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Employers have the right to monitor private messages of employees

19 January 2016

The last week’s news that the European Court of Human Rights made the ruling employers can monitor email and IM private messages of employees caused wide public resonance.

The Strasbourg court ruled on the case of a Romanian engineer who was sacked in 2007 after it had been discovered that he had been using Yahoo Messenger not only to communicate on work purposes, but also to chat with his brother and fiancée during working hours. According to the verdict, the control of online private messages of employees is the right of employers.

Claim that the right to privacy had been breached in the form of the employee’s confidential correspondence being compromised, was dismissed. The European Court took the side of the employer having agreed that it was “not unreasonable that an employer would want to verify that employees were completing their professional tasks during working hours.”

Until this moment there was a clear distinction between employer’s ability of viewing private messages of employees and the ability to monitor information directly related to a company’s business. Now everything has changed.

Rulings of the European Court of Human Rights are obligatory for countries which have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights.

According to the research of Falcongaze Analytics Centre, misuse of working time and the Internet is becoming a real scourge. The wording implies computer games, communication in social networks and the endless chats in instant messengers barely related to the labor activity. With the development of technology there are more and more temptations for employees, and often entertainment and communication with friends during working hours occupy a priority position compared to the performance of professional duties.

It should be understood that the resources, including a computer and the Internet access, belong to an employer, and therefore their use should be directed solely to the benefit of the company. An employer has the right to monitor compliance with this simple rule, and it is up to a manager how to deal with violations.