UK employees do not realise personal messages during working hours may be monitored

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Sending personal messages during working hours means employers can snoop

UK employees continue to send personal messages at work despite the European ruling that means their boss could read the messages. 

Employers are allowed to read private messages sent via chat software and webmail accounts during working hours.

Back in January, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that companies are allowed to read their staff’s private online messages during office hours.

The judgement centred on the case of a Romanian engineer who was fired in 2007 after his company discovered he was using Yahoo Messenger to chat with his fiancée and brother at work.

The fact that employers can read the content of the personal and professional messages that staff send throughout the day has not stopped British workers from continuing to chat while they work.

According to research, on average UK employees are sending up to 100 messages while at work, not realising that their boss could be monitoring what they’re up to.

About 70 per cent of UK workers admit to using email, WhatsApp, text and Facebook Messenger for personal use while on the job, and a large proportion are actually unaware of the regulations surrounding the monitoring of private messages, The Telegraph reports.

“It’s really important for individuals to understand how their use of email and social media fits with their employer’s policies,” said David Evans, director of policy at BCS – the Chartered Institute for IT.

“It is also important for managers to treat employees with respect, and not monitoring their employees more than is needed to manage the business risks.”

With the increased popularity of work-based chat apps such as Slack and the use of ‘dark social’ such a Whatsapp for work communications, it’s increasingly difficult for employees to know what their rights are when it comes to privacy.

Cartoon of the month by Tim Ruscoe
Cartoon by t.ruscoe@btconnect.com