Monitoring Employee’s Use of the Internet


Monitoring Employee's Use of the Internet

You may have heard in the media this week about a judgement in the European Court of Human Rights ruled that employers can justify reading workers' private online messages.

The case concerned an employee who was using Yahoo messenger to chat with family and professional contacts whilst he was at work. 

The judge ruled that employers had the right to check employees were completing their work and therefore had the right to monitor messaging. The judge also said that the employee had breached the company's rules by sending messages during working time.

The employee was dismissed because the company's policies clearly stated using computers and other equipment for personal purposes was forbidden. The employee however believed that his right to confidential correspondence had been breached. 

The Court ruled that it would not be unreasonable for an employer to want to ensure that employees were carrying out the tasks they were paid for.  The Court did say however that the ruling did not give employers the power for ‘snooping on private messages'.

To be able to monitor employees IT activities it is important to have a robust IT policy which clearly sets out what is and is not acceptable in the workplace and in what circumstances the employer can access information on an employee's computer.

An employer must retain the right to look at anything on the employee's computer to ensure that the employee is complying with the law and with their contractual obligations and also make it clear to employees that anything done on a work computer is open to scrutiny.  Policies should also state that any breaches may be addressed through the disciplinary policy which could lead to their dismissal.

If you would like any advice or assistance in drafting or updating of your policies, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Angie.  You can contact Angie Dansey at


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