Are you, as an employer of domestic staff, entitled to check your employee’s phone to see if they have been gossiping about you to others?
This whole area is a delicate issue which came under the spotlight recently at an Employment Tribunal. It arose when a former employee took their employer to an Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal and claimed their right to privacy had been breached under the European Convention on Human Rights by checking their phone for messages.
This is where it becomes complicated!
In general terms, the Convention does provide protection for private correspondence and, in some situations, cover work emails. However, in the above case, the emails had been sent to work colleagues and caused some upset which affected their work.
In this particular case the claim of unfair dismissal was dismissed and it was ruled the former employee’s human rights had not been breached because of the specific factors.
However, if you are contemplating checking the phone of an employee, you MUST seek professional advice before doing so, or indeed anything which could be considered as an invasion of their personal privacy.