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Personal IT privacy at work
A recent case regarding privacy at work has been resolved at the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR).
The employee was using Yhaoo Messenger during work hours to send and receive personal and professional emails. This was a direct breach of the company policy which clearly stated that it was strictly forbidden to use computer and other office equipment for personal purposes. The company followed full investigation and disciplinary procedures and dismissed the employee for failure to comply with company policies. The employee argued that the company had breached his human rights to privacy.
The ECtHR view:
The ECtHR found that as the employer had been checking on work related activities and subsequently discovered the personal activities, they had not breached the employees’ rights. However, they did deem it be a proportionate interference. They also made it very clear that employers do not have the right to access employees personal emails and that policies should be clear on what personal use is allowed and what monitoring will be conducted.
Following this outcome, employers are urged to review their IT and Social Media policies to ensure they are not in breach of privacy rights. The policies must clearly state how much personal use is acceptable and what monitoring will be carried out.
How we can help:
Our dedicated team of HR professionals and employment law experts can quickly review your current policy and update it where required to give you sound peace of mind. If you don’t have IT and Social Media policies, we can easily create them for you to suit the needs of your business. Contact us on 01382 250333 to see how we can protect you from future claims.
The full case can be reviewed here - CASE OF BĂRBULESCU v. ROMANIA
Normally after the Christmas break, we want to get back into routine at work. But this year has been exceptionally difficult due to the widespread flooding during the first week of the working year. However, things are looking better!
So are you back to normal yet? There are several issues to consider due to the adverse weather in relation to staff attending work.
- How do you handle staff absences due to them not being able to get to work because of road closures? You could give them unpaid time off, or allow them to use holidays at short notice. January is not a good time for any of us to have a lower wage! You can also allow them to work the time back at a later date, maybe within the month.
- Some staff may require compassionate leave if their homes have been flooded. This can be very traumatic and they may need extra time to clean up and come to terms with the extent of the damage.
- If your staff care for someone who has been adversely affected by the floods, they may be entitled to emergency dependents leave. For example, if their child’s school has been closed or if they are the main carer for an elderly relative. Emergency dependents leave is unpaid and the amount of leave granted is normally a couple of days to allow for alternative arrangements to be made. Again, you could offer some flexibility with relaxing the holiday request process and granting holidays at short notice or allowing flexi-time for a while.
- If your business has been closed due to flooding and you tell your staff not to attend work, you still have to pay them for the hours that they would have normally been working. However, you may want to look into a ‘short-term lay-off’ period which would mean that you only have to pay them the statutory minimum payment. There are very strict rules surrounding this process. Please see the ACAS advice leaflet – Lay-offs and Short-time Working. Our consultants can also offer advice and support on this process.
- Don’t forget about health & safety! You should advise your staff to keep an eye on the local travel warnings and only make the journey to work if it is safe to do so. You don’t want to encourage staff to take unnecessary risks.
The key thing here is that you are understanding of the extenuating circumstances and be as flexible as you can be. In return, you will gain respect and dedication from your staff.
Should you have any queries regarding any of the points above, our dedicated HR consultants are on hand to help. Call us on 01382 250333 or click here to contact us.