Experts in work relations are warning that your boss could be looking over your shoulder more than you think.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that employers are allowed to read workers’ private online communications.
Judges ruled that it was acceptable for a Romanian company to monitor the private communications of an engineer who had used his work email to send personal messages.
The engineer Bogan Bărbulescu had reportedly sent personal messages, via a Yahoo messenger account, to both his fiancé and brother during work hours.
His employer said that this was in breach of company policy, which prohibited the use of the messaging app for personal purposes.
Following this landmark case, employment lawyers are warning that people in the UK are still not aware their employer can monitor their private communications in the work place.
Miriam Bruce, a specialist in employment law and a senior associate at a London city firm, said:
You are in a work environment, even using your work Wi-Fi you have to accept terms and conditions that says your employer can monitor you use.
There are previous cases, where people have complained or moaned about their employer on Facebook, and that’s been enough for action to be taken.
Sarah Watkins, a lawyer for a London Investment Bank, says there are occasions when businesses should monitor their employees:
From an employer’s perspective I can feel there are occasions where it’s warranted to be looking at employee’s emails.
If you are not willing for others to see it, then you have got to question whether or not it’s the kind of thing you should be writing or doing online at work.
Lilian Edwards, a professor of Internet law at Strathclyde University, told to the BBC that the judgment was in line with UK law and past cases.
In this case, the employers say clearly that you are not to use the internet for anything but work.
Although it is not popular, it is completely legal.
The employer seems to have played this by the book.