Multilingual Business Communication

March 24, 2009

When your boss is snooping

Filed under: employee communication, Sophie Naveau — meertaligebedrijfscommunicatie @ 10:58 am


Needless to say: even at work, you cannot help checking your private e-mail box. Many companies are monitoring their staff’s private communications in order to filter out viruses and spam and to keep an eye on customer service. The question arises: should our bosses be allowed to open our personal e-mails? This seems an interesting and all the more tricky topic to me.

Laws already exist to protect employees from their boss’ scrutiny. In the UK, basic guidelines determine in which case employers can have access to their employees’ communications and what can be done with the information. In France, the law is more stringent: employers do not have the right to open any of their staff’s e-mails.

I am divided on the question. On the one hand, right to privacy is one of the Human Rights and should not be flouted. On the other hand, I can understand private e-mails monitoring. After all, you are not even supposed to check your private messages during work time. If you decide to do so anyway, you should accept that your boss keeps an eye on it…


 24th March 2009:


1 Comment »

  1. I agree with you that it is a dilemma where snoopers have to draw the line. Since Internet has become an indispensable business communication tool, it is normal that employees are tempted to check their personal e-mails during working hours. However, this personal use should not be out of proportion. You already mentioned that legislation concerning snooping is not universal. Moreover, snooping laws remain vague and state that ‘monitoring must be transparent’ and that ‘control cannot be too excessive’. As you notice, this is open to interpretation…

    I’ve also read a few articles about the fact that some companies are also recording phone calls and that they are using hidden cameras to monitor their staff. For example, the Trade Union Congres in the UK has been involved in a lawsuit against a company that put cameras in the toilets after a case of vandalism. “We’ve come across a company that was using the swipe card system for staff to access the toilets, and then deducting the time spent from their wages,” says Ian Tasker of the TUC. In my opinion, this goes too far. A worker does not only have a right to privacy, but certainly to dignity at work…

    (Karen Decabooter)


    Comment by Karen Decabooter — March 28, 2009 @ 6:47 pm

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