In 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held that a Romanian employer acted lawfully when it monitored an employee’s Yahoo messenger account. This decision has now been reversed, holding in favour of the employee’s right to privacy.
The warning for employers is that workers have a right to respect for privacy in the workplace, and if an employer is going to monitor their emails and messages, the employer should (exceptional reasons aside) tell the worker that their communications might be monitored. Here, although the employee knew it was forbidden to use work computers for personal purposes, he had not been told that the employer was monitoring his communications. It should be remembered that the Human Rights Act in the UK only applies to those employed in the public sector but it is a warning worth noting in any event.