Employers could find themselves in hot water if they decide to follow a new government plan to record and store all of Britain’s emails, phone calls and text messages say lawyers at Glovers Solicitors. With privacy rights jeopardised, employers who choose to replicate the campaign may find themselves breaching the Human Rights Act and facing employment tribunals.
“The European Court of Human Rights has made it clear that, in order for such monitoring of an employee to be justified, the employer must make it absolutely clear to the individual that their privacy is not guaranteed and that monitoring may take place.” says Sikin Andela, partner and employment law specialist at Glovers. “The easiest way for an employer to do this is to ensure that their employment documentation (contracts and/or handbooks) contains a clear and formal policy on how workstations will be monitored and what will happen to the information that is collected.”
This strain on the fundamental trust between employer and employee could, if not approached correctly, raise a wide range of employment law issues. Through this monitoring an employer could discover information that leads to disciplinary action being taken. If an employee is not made aware that they are potentially being monitored then any claim they make to a tribunal will have a prospect of success.
“In short this “Big Brother” style of keeping tabs on everyone is potentially highly contentious” continues Andela. “In order to protect themselves in the workforce, employers must ensure that they have evaluated the business need of monitoring employees against the individual rights of workers, amended their policies and procedures and made every employee expressly aware that they may potentially be monitored at any time.”
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