Bărbulescu v. Romania clarifies an employers’ rights to monitor the contents of their employees’ private electronic communications

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights, ruled on the 5th September 2017 in the case Bărbulescu v. Romania that companies can monitor their employees’ email if they are notified in advance, giving shape to a rapidly evolving area of the law at the intersection of technology, privacy and workers’ rights. In this case, the court decided that there had been a violation of Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life, the home and correspondence) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Mr. Barbulescu had “not been informed in advance of the extent and nature of his employer’s monitoring, or the possibility that the employer might have access to the actual contents of his messages,” it said in its ruling.

It is not sufficient for employers to have a general policy permitting monitoring — the policy will need to be much more detailed, outlining why, how and where employees may be monitored and explaining how any information gathered through monitoring may be used. It is best to have such detail in a policy rather than a contract of employment as policies are easier to update from time to time.

Keeping up to date with case-law is essential and every year during the Employment Case Law Conference we cover the hottest and latest cases. This year the conference will be held on the 22nd November 2017 and is being sponsored by: Buddy Payroll Companion, Business Leaders Academy, Castille Resources, De La Rue, Gasan Mamo Insurance,  Shireburn. For more information please visit www.employmentcaselawconference.eu We are already taking bookings so feel free to make your booking now.