Work emails: reasonable expectation of privacy?

Dispute Resolution - 1 minute read

In this case, the Claimant was dismissed after the employer used private material seized by the police in the course of a criminal investigation after it came to an end.  The Claimant argued  that this use of photos and emails infringed Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – theright to a private life. 

The Employment Tribunal concluded that the Claimant had no reasonable expectation of privacy in respect of emails sent to a work colleague, with whom he had had a relationship, and photographs on his iPhone. 

Lessons for Employers? Check whether there is a reasonable expectation that correspondence by an employee to and from work are private, before investigating or using them in disciplinary proceedings in relation to the employee.

The case? Garamukanwa v Solent NHS Trust UKEAT/0245/15/DA

The Employment Appeal Tribunal ruled that he had no reasonable expectation of privacy under Article 8 because:

His conduct had an impact or potential impact on work-related matters including his relationship with his employer
The emails were sent to the recipients' work addresses
Their content related (partly) to work matters
Their content affected the recipients' wellbeing (in relation to which the employer owed a duty of care) and their ability to do their jobs