A judgement by the European Court of Human Rights has enabled more effective supervision of employees

5. 2. 2016

Until recently there was a certain amount of uncertainty regarding the possibility to check employees' work e-mails or other activities during working hours. For fear of possible punishment due to a violation of employees' right to privacy, employers had rather given up the possibility of extensive monitoring of computers or work phone calls.Now, following the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Bărbulescu against Romania (complaint no. 61496/08), the situation has changed and the court has laid down certain conditions, under which the "monitoring" of employees during working hours is permissible.

The basic criterion for any possible monitoring is whether employees can reasonably expect that their right to privacy will be guaranteed when they use electronic equipment during working hours. This is not the case when an employee has been warned of a possible check either explicitly or in an internal regulation, in which the use of phones or computers for personal reasons is forbidden. Then this type of check can be carried out, provided that it also meets the requirements of transparency, necessity, fairness and appropriateness. Since this is basically a legal assessment we recommend discussing any specific steps and measures with experts in labour relations.

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