Nov 9

Is my employer allowed to monitor my private correspondence?


In July 2017, a novel of Act No. 251/2005 Coll., on Labour Inspection (LIA) entered into effect where a new power of labour inspection bodies was introduced in LIA; they can impose a fine up to CZK 100,000.00 on an employer who violates employees’ privacy, who fails to notify employees about the extent and procedure of a control to be made, or who requests information from employees which is not immediately related to performance of work.
The employer is first of all bound to notify employees in advance about any monitoring or other procedures to fight employees’ tardiness in the working hours. The employer is also bound to inform about the extent in which he is to control employees.
The above-mentioned was supported by the decision of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg (“ECHR”) in the case Romania vs. Bogdan Barbulesk, file no. 61496/08 of 5 September 2017; the Grand Chamber was adjudicating in a case concerning lawfulness of notice given to employee from the reason that the employee largely engaged in a private conversation during working hours, using business electronic communications. The court reproached the employer for informing his employees insufficiently about the performed monitoring, although such control was included in the company’s internal regulations. In the Grand Chamber’s opinion, it was not sufficient; in its resolution, the Grand Chamber reminded it was necessary to specify the extent of employees’ monitoring as particularly as possible, including the situation in which it will be made by the employer.
Moreover, the employer should have a legitimate reason to monitor electronic communication, such as performing such monitoring for the purpose of protection of assets. The Grand Chamber also stated that in the case of employee’s breach of obligation to refrain from private communication in working hours set by the employer, the employer should have drawn less onerous consequences from such breach than a notice of termination.