Can I Monitor My Employees Emails, Web Usage, and Phone Calls?

My monitor with weiner

Can I read my employees emails?  What about phone calls?  Can i look at the web sites my employees are going to?

In short, yes.  Employers can set the rules regarding the privacy or non-privacy of emails on company systems.  You should as a best practice, state in your company handbook and/or policies that emails may be monitored.  One situation where you may run into trouble is if you tell your employees that email is confidential, and monitor it anyway.

Similarly, you can monitor employee phone calls without warning or announcement so long as you have a legitimate business need to do so.  For example, you can monitor employees’ conversations with clients, vendors, other co-workers.  However, once you realize that the conversation is personal in nature and not business related, you may no longer have the right to monitor.

And yes, you can monitor your employees’ web site usage, including history and downloaded files. In fact, many if not most, employers do monitor internet usage.

A best practice for all employers is to have a written policy setting forth that employees have no expectation of privacy when using company equipment and resources for communication, including any email, text messages, instant messages, web site usage and cell phones.  Have each employee acknowledge that they have received the policy, read it, and understand it.

Image by Flickr user Carolyn Coles (Creative Commons)

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