It emerged recently that 9 council employees in Scotland were
dismissed and others demoted after "inappropriate" use of email and
internet was uncovered through monitoring by their employer. It is
thought that the employees were accused of accessing and storing
pornographic or obscene images on computers. The employees in question
intend to appeal against their dismissals.
Employers will usually want to monitor their employees' internet and
email usage as a means of identifying harassment or other inappropriate
behaviour or as a means of assessing employee performance. However, to
avoid laying themselves open to privacy related claims brought by
employees, employers ought to ensure that they have communicated a
monitoring policy to employees and that employees are aware and remain
aware of the policy. It is not considered sufficient to post a notice
and hope employees read it.
Employers ought to consider, if they have not done so already,
carrying out an assessment in to the impact of their monitoring policy
on the privacy rights of their employees to ensure that there is no
more infringement than is absolutely necessary.