In December 2014, the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) - a tribunal public body responsible for hearing appeals from Employment Tribunals - dismissed an employee’s claim that his privacy had been infringed by his employer and confirmed, more generally, employers’ rights to monitor workplace emails and Internet use when a clear policy is in place.
The employer performed a routine check on the employee’s email and Internet use when he uncovered that the employee had been sending overtly sexual messages to a friend he hoped to find a position for at the company from his work email. When the employer began disciplinary proceedings for email misuse, the employee promptly resigned, alleging that the employer violated his privacy by accessing his company email.
After analysing the employer’s Internet and Email Acceptable Use Policy, the EAT dismissed the employee’s claim, ruling that the policy clearly stated that the employer may, at any time, access employees’ email and Internet usage. The policy dictated that all employees were bound by it, that their emails may be monitored, and that employees should not assume their work email is private.
The EAT case will likely serve as a precedent that employers may monitor employees, and as a testament to the importance of having a clear, well-written Internet and Email Acceptable Use Policy. By setting out unequivocally what email and Internet use is acceptable, the employer avoided a potentially disastrous and financially ruinous ruling.
Make sure your business is prepared for such claims by adopting a robust Internet and Email Acceptable Use Policy that guards against privacy infringement claims. Contact Bollington Insurance Brokers today for more information on safeguarding your business.