How far is too far! Monitoring of Employee’s Emails within the Working Hours

employees emails monitoring

Technology has played a significant role over the years especially for the advancement of business organizations. Today employees within the business organizations are more productive than ever before. The reason behind the productivity of the employees totally depends upon the use of technological creatures in terms of cell phones, gadgets and computer devices connected to the internet. The use of the technology and its creatures enable us to consume less time and energies to gain more and more productive results that ultimately generate revenue and provide a good pay scale for the workers. However, the technology also has introduced an activity to keep an eye on the employee’s work performance and to keep an eye on their activities on the company’s owned devices in the shape of email monitoring of the employees.

Employee Monitoring has Significant Media Attention

Employee monitoring within the working hours has got considerable media attention over the years. European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Barbulescu Romania 12th January 2016, “ECHR has passed a judgment that employer could monitor and even get access to emails sent/received of employees on company’s equipment within the working hours.

However, the media reports have misled the decision in terms of employers will from now enable a carte blanche to monitor the employee’s emails and then it has hit the employees with a storm. On the other hand, the ECHR judgment was about some very particular aspects, in particular, a restriction on work on company’s owned devices such as mobile phones and computer machines and has not set a precedent for unrestricted monitoring by employers of emails sent or received by the workers within the working hours. On the other hand, it has served as a clear useful reminder for employers to have a clear policy about the personal use of the company’s equipment and surveillance on employees at the workplace. Moreover, employers can comply with the data protection of the company within the company’s owned devices and privacy laws when they are going to monitor communication in the workplace within the working hours.

The background

Mr. Barbulescu has set up a Yahoo messenger account for professional use at very according to his employer’s request, on the other hands, the employers have informed him several times that their account is being monitored over several days. Moreover, the report says Mr. Barbulescu has used the company’s internet for personal reasons that were the violation of the company’s policy. The company has its crystal clear policy that it is strictly prohibited to violate the company’s role within the company’s premises and most importantly to use the company’s owned devices such as computers, telephones, and telex and fax machines for personal reasons.

On the other hand when the Barbules denied of using Yahoo messenger for personal reasons then his employer presented him with the proofs. Furthermore, the employers have forty-five pages of his communication that includes several instant messaging activities such as messages, chat conversations with his fiancé and with his younger brother along with the sensitive data about his health and sex life.

Later on, employers have fired him and they have used the transcript of his activities within the working hours using the company’s property in disciplinary proceedings. Furthermore, Barbulescu appealed to the court and claims that his emails were protected by the Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as pertaining to his private life and correspondence. At the end of the day, after watching all the evidence given by the company’s employers, The Bucharest County Court dismissed his appeal.

Pros of Employee’ Email Monitoring

Email monitoring of the employees can bring too many advantages, but employers should know how much is too much employee monitoring? When it comes to the pros of monitoring employees emails the first would be to detect and stop abuse or inappropriate behavior of the employees.

Further, employers can make sure that their employees are not wasting time especially in non –work-related mates. It can prevent the bad behavior of the employees and it could be a strong deterrence against the unwanted behavior.

Employers can catch their employees within the working hours if they are involved in something fishy that really reputation or other aspects of the business organization. Therefore, a clear monitoring policy of the employee’s emails can protect the business organizations from cyber-attacks such as online scams and cyber ransomware attacks by sending to the company online malicious links to the employee’s emails.

Additionally, at the end of the day, you may lose all of the confidential data stored on the devices. Email monitoring, if done properly within the business organizations can lead the employer’s higher productivity and lower the ratio of harassment or bullying in the office. Women harassment at workplace is the common activity, so an employer can protect the rights of the women employees to the fullest.

PEW Study Stated That

In present times professionals spend more than 6.3 hours a day on emails sent/received 123 emails that could be average numbers. Most of the employees hover over the emails at very before they step into the workplace and employers check their mailbox even at weekend. On the other hand, the generation Z is the least interested in sending emails and prefers instant messaging apps over the emails.

Top Ten Tips for Bosses for Employee Monitoring

  • The rising trend of employee monitoring at workplace has its significance, but on the other hand, employers who intend to involve in the monitoring of employees need to ensure the following.
  • Employers need to have a policy on the use of cell phone, internet, and social media websites.
  • They need to have transparent monitoring systems with proper consent against employee communication via an email or other tools on the company’s owned devices. They should explain to the employee why monitoring is necessary.
  • Ensure your employees why the monitoring of your email or any other, is necessary in proportionate and not excessive in regard to the concerns it seeks to allay.
  • Any sort of monitoring will be carried out in the least illicit and intrusive manner
  • The written agreement sh
    ould take place you and your employer that you will keep an eye on your particular activities and employee will have to follow the policy of the company.
  • Make sure that monitoring of the employee will not affect their privacy and it will carry out for the sake of business interest. However, don’t use the internet and belonging to the company for personal reasons.
  • The policy of the company needs to be reviewed regularly and changes need to be made if necessary.
  • The emails of the employees should be marked personal/private and they should not access the personal ones unless for legitimate reasons such as using the company’s owned devices for personal reasons by the employees.
  • Bosses need to implement the BYOD policy (Bring Your Own Device Policy) that can be allowed
  • The intrusive and explicit surveillance of employees is only undertaken to have the written consent of the employees at the time of recruitment to prevent and detect illegal activity to save the private and confidential data of the company.

Before coming to the conclusion, you need to keep in mind that cyber–warfare is on the rise and hacking through emails has become a common weapon of the hackers. Hackers have created corporate chaos, so bosses need to aware of each and every single email sent/received by employees within the working hours using the company’s owned devices. This will enable employers to protect their business from hackers and scammers to the fullest.


As you have read the above mentioned European Court of Human Rights Judgment about email monitoring of employees emails.  Bosses just need to have a pre-written agreement of monitoring emails of the employees. Then Employers can monitor emails of their employees on company’s owned devices within the working hours, no matter what if they use some tech –tools to track emails and IM’s through monitoring app for the safety of the business and to keep an eye on their employees to catch them if get involved into something fishy. However, Bosses should respect every employee’s privacy in particular but take action in case of the violation when it comes to the protection of the business.


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