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European Court of Human Rights: the employer may control the employee’s emails under certain conditions

In its judgment No. 61496, handed down on 12 January 2016, the European Court of Human Rights considered the dismissal served on an employee who, during working hours, had sent messages to own relatives from the email account given to him for doing his work, thus infringing the internal rules prohibiting the use for private purposes, to be lawful. According to the European Court, in the case at issue, there was a fair reconciliation between the employer’s needs for a regular work performance and the privacy of the employee concerned. Access to the emails by the employer was made based on the assumption that they were professional communications, whilst the content of the personal communications were not inspected by the employer. In conclusion, according to the Court, “it is not unreasonable for an employer to be willing to check that employees complete their own tasks during working hours”.