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The recent European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruling in the case of Bogdan Bărbulescu provides guidance for employers’ on the extent to which they can monitor their employees’ emails in the workplace.

In this case an employee had been dismissed and brought a claim against his employer claiming that by monitoring his private email communications his right to privacy under Article 8 of the ECHR had been breached. The employee has been asked to set up a Yahoo Messenger account to contact clients. The employer had monitored the account and found personal messages unrelated to work.

It was held that an employer could, if justified under the circumstances, be entitled to monitor employees' emails provided this was limited in scope and a proportionate means of achieving its legitimate objective.

Unfortunately for Mr Barbulescu, the Judges felt that the firm had not acted unlawfully as it had thought that it was accessing a work account, not a personal account, when the messages were discovered.

The employer, in this case, was transparent in its policy that the internet was not to be used for personal use and the employee was in clear beach of this policy.

This case underlines the importance for employers to ensure that they have clear policies in place and provide clear notification to employees that their communication is being monitored.

This decision highlights how important it is that employees are told how, why and when their communications may be monitored and also that employers understand that there are strict legal limits on how that monitoring can take place.

Ramsdens specialist and experienced Employment team are here to help you with any employment issues you are facing in your business. Call us on 01484 821 500 or email gareth.dando@ramsdens.co.uk if you need help.