The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) have held that the monitoring and use of an employee’s private messages as part of disciplinary proceedings and subsequent legal action was a proportionate interference in the employee’s rights to privacy.
The employee who had been in breach of his employer’s internet use policy in Bărbulescu v Romania - 61496/08  ECHR 61 and who’s dismissal had been upheld, claimed that his rights to privacy under article 8 of the Human Rights Act had been violated.
Despite this ruling, employers should, however continue to follow their policies and take advice if necessary. The extent to which they can monitor an employee is limited to certain types of monitoring and in particular circumstances, and the decision does not overrule previous case law on the reasonable expectation of privacy or the obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998.
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