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Right to private life does not extend to material received from the police

The EAT has upheld an employment tribunal finding that Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights was not engaged when an employer used for disciplinary purposes material seized by the police in the course of a criminal investigation.

While the aspects of private life capable of falling within Article 8 are potentially wide, the EAT noted that whether an employee has a reasonable expectation of privacy will depend on the facts.

In this case, the tribunal had been entitled to find that the employee could not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to material about a personal relationship with a work colleague which had been turned into a workplace issue by the employee's conduct.

However, a disturbing feature of the case is the provision of material to the employer by the police and the role that played in the employer's investigation and decision to dismiss the employee. The decision raises questions such as should the police pass material to an employer as the result of a criminal investigation, and should an employer be allowed to rely on such information?

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