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The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has ruled that employers cannot, save for in exceptional circumstances, monitor private emails communications accessed on work systems without first informing employees that such monitoring may take place.
The case in question concerned an employee sending personal emails on a work computer. The employee knew that accessing personal email accounts was forbidden when using the employer’s equipment but importantly he had not been advised that any such access to private emails would be monitored by the employer.
The moral of the story is that employees have a right to privacy in the workplace even if they are flouting workplace rules. A clear IT policy and comprehensive training can help to ensure that employees are informed about workplace monitoring, thereby avoiding costly litigation.
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