What is whistleblowing?

There is legislation to protect employees if they ‘blow the whistle’ on their employer. If an employee is dismissed because they have ‘blown the whistle’ their dismissal is considered unfair.

Unlawful Detriment

Furthermore, employees are also entitled to be protected from any unlawful detriment such as:

  • threats, disciplinary action
  • loss of work or pay
  • damage to career prospects

There are benefits in bringing a claim for unfair dismissal in relation to whistle blowing.  The reason is that it disregards the condition to have been employed by your employer for two years and removes the cap on damages.

Blowing the Whistle – what does it mean?

Blowing the whistle is formally known as making a protected disclosure. Only certain disclosures are classed as protected. They are:

  • A criminal offence.
  • Breach of any legal obligation.
  • Miscarriage of justice.
  • Danger to the health and safety of any individual.
  • Damage to the environment.
  • The deliberate concealing of information about any of the above.

The law about protected disclosures is contained within the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (the “Act”). The Act encourages employees to make the disclosures to their employer.

However, certain disclosures to third-parties are also protected such as:

  • the HMRC,
  • the Health and Safety Executive,
  • the Office of Fair Trading,
  • the Charity Commission,
  • Members of Parliament and certain industry regulators.

Why is it important for Employers to Protect Whistleblowers?

All employers should have a formal whistle blowing policy in place. This will help avoid unfair dismissal claims against them and the subsequent costs involved. Added to this whistle blowing helps avoid bad practice, reputation damage and aspects of potential unlawful actions and criminal behaviour.

What should a Whistleblowing Policy include?

The policy should set out the procedure for reporting any issues. If the the issue relates to their direct line manager they should be able to report the matter to another manager.

It is important that the policy be known and accessible by all employees.

Finally, it is important that if a protected disclosure is made that it is investigated properly by the employer and the whistle blower informed of the progress of the investigation.

If you have any queries on any of these issues contact our team of employment solicitors. 

Costs in the Employment Tribunal

Employment Tribunal costs (including solicitors’ and barristers’ fees) differ from the Courts.  In the County Court and the High Court, you usually recover a percentage of the legal costs from the losing party (apart from the small claims section). However, in the Employment Tribunal, the general rule is that each party must bear their own costs. This means what a client spends in legal costs pursuing or defending an employment tribunal matter will not be recovered from the other party. Even if they are successful.

There are exceptions to this rule though. It’s important to note that this is very much the exception rather than the rule.

Firstly, a costs order must be made when the final hearing is adjourned or postponed. A working example would be:

Where the respondent failed to provide evidence that the claimant’s job (from which they were dismissed) is still available and the claimant had told the respondent seven days before the final hearing – they were looking to be reinstated in their job.

There are other cases when a costs order may be made. This can be when one of the following circumstances has arisen:

A party or their lawyer has been an annoyance, abusive and disruptive during the conduct of the proceedings;

The usual example is, that if it’s considered a claimant has knowingly pursued a claim without merit. With the intention to harass and cause a nuisance to the responding party. By taking up their time, money and resources in defending the matter.

If a claim had no reasonable prospect of success;

There is scope for a costs order to be made if it’s considered the claim had no reasonable prospects of success. Such circumstances may arise where the claimant refuses to accept advice that the claim is misconceived or without merit.

A party breaches any order of the Tribunal;

The failure to comply with an order. Such as disclosing documents before the final hearing, may result in the party in default having to pay costs to the other side.

A hearing is postponed upon an application of a party;

Postponing a hearing will usually lead to wasted costs for the other party and the Tribunal. Therefore, it is typical for a costs order to be made in such circumstances.

Note that the Tribunal has broad discretion to award cases in one of the above circumstances. If you wish to discuss your claim, please contact our employment team on Levi Solicitors  0113 297 1873.

two people handshaking above table with laptop

The law of defamation in the digital age

As we settle into the digital era, an ever-increasing number of media outlets are being utilised. News stories are now travelling quicker than ever. Platforms such as Twitter are giving individuals a stage to voice their own opinions. However, an increase in the use of media has also been met with online tension, harassment and defamation claims.

So, what exactly counts as defamation? We set out two recent case studies involving high-profile individuals as examples.

What is the law of defamation?

Defamation concerns the publication of defamatory material that damages a person’s reputation. It’s also known as libel and slander. A defamatory statement lowers the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking people. The statement has no defence – so it would either tell the truth or would be one of honest opinion. There is a requirement that the statement causes serious harm to the reputation of the claimant. The law regarding defamation is contained within the Defamation Acts 1996 and 2013 as well as in common law – i.e. the decisions of the courts in regards to cases brought regarding the issue.

Recent cases

Defamation cases are often covered in the media when they relate to well-known individuals. There have been a number of recent cases involving such figures within the media.

Jack Monroe v Katie Hopkins

Ms Hopkins is a prominent commentator in the media with right-wing views. The claimant is a food blogger and writer who holds left-wing views.

The defamatory statement related to a tweet from Ms Hopkins which accused the claimant of vandalising war memorials. Ms Hopkins had confused the claimant with Laurie Penny – another left-wing writer. Penny had previously appeared to condone the posting of political statements on memorials in certain circumstances.

Ms Hopkins later tweeted that she did not understand the difference between the claimant and Ms Penny. The claimant pursued a claim for damages.

The court was asked to consider the following issues:

  1. The meanings borne by the tweets;
  2. Whether those meanings had a defamatory tendency;
  3. Had there been serious harm to their reputation;
  4. Should compensation be awarded.

The court held the following in relation to these 4 points;

  1. The first tweet meant that the claimant approved of vandalising war memorials;
  2. The meanings had a tendency to be defamatory. Right-thinking members of society would generally disapprove of such vandalism;
  3. The publication of the tweets caused the claimant not only real and substantial distress but also serious harm to reputation;
  4. The claimant was entitled to reasonable and fair compensation.

Interestingly, the Monroe v Hopkins case looked at applying long-established principles regarding defamation, to Twitter. The court commented that Twitter was different from ordinary print publications.

A tweet that is said to be defamatory may contain a hyperlink. Tweets are also usually read as part of a series of tweets alongside the original tweet in question. This in turn, forms part of a multi-dimensional conversation.

It was said that to apply the principles to Twitter, it is better not to take an overly analytical approach to the meaning of tweets. Rather, it’s best to consider the impression the tweet would leave. This includes references to any links embedded within the tweets and the context of it (i.e. the conversations relating to it).

Matthew Zarb-Cousin v (1) Association of British Bookmakers (2) Malcolm George (2018)

In this case, the claimant is a prominent campaigner for greater regulation of the gambling industry. He was also a former advisor to Jeremy Corbyn.

The court was required to determine a preliminary issue in the claimant’s defamation claim. The defamatory comment had been made during a television news programme.

The second defendant claimed that the claimant was making deliberate misstatements regarding fixed betting terminals as he was funded by the casino industry. The claimant denied the claim and sued for defamation. The second defendant’s defence stated that it was obvious that his statement was one of opinion and not defamatory. The court had to determine the meaning of the words used by the second defendant. It needed to be decided whether serious harm would be caused to the claimant or whether he was simply stating an opinion.

The court held that the statement was communicated as factual. The idea that the claimant was a paid lobbyist would harm his reputation. The statement questioned the claimant’s integrity. It was concluded that there was a risk that the statement would cause significant harm.

Contact us

Sean McHale is a Solicitor in the dispute resolution team at Levi Solicitors LLP. He advises clients in relation to a variety of disputes matters including defamation and harassment. If you have experienced defamation or harassment and would like to speak to a solicitor, get in contact. We offer a FREE initial consultation.  Call us today on 0800 988 7756 (FREEPHONE) or email info@levisolicitors.co.uk.


Obtaining an injunction for harassment

We are approached by people who are concerned they are being harassed by neighbours, former friends, ex-partners or acquaintances. As harassment is a criminal and civil offence, quite often clients have discussed the matter with the police first. It is common for the police to advise a client to speak to a solicitor to consider obtaining an injunction against the offending party. This is on the basis that if the injunction obtained is later breached, the police can intervene. Unfortunately, obtaining an injunction for harassment can be a complicated process.

What is harassment?

The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 defines harassment. Essentially, the definition is ‘pursuing a course of conduct which causes a person alarm or distress’. It must involve more than one incident of harassment and the test as to whether the conduct constitutes harassment is an objective one. In other words, if another person considered that conduct, they would consider it to be conduct which amounts to harassment. Harassment includes speech.

Many clients will consider that there is an immediacy and a need to obtain an injunction without delay. To do so, you will need to consider the following factors:

  • has there been a threat of violence?
  • Is there an immediate need for an injunction? I.e. has there been a threat, or a potential meeting of the parties?
  • Has there been an escalation in the conduct by the offending party? For example,  more aggressive or obscene conduct that is consistent and persistent.

The conduct has to be deemed oppressive and unacceptable.

Malicious Communications Act 1988

The use of social media to bully and harass people is widely reported to be on the increase. If this is the case, the offending party may have breached other Acts of Parliament. One particular Act is the Malicious Communications Act 1988.

The Act prevents the sending of communications (including online messages or letters) that convey a threat, a grossly offensive or indecent message, or false information. It applies if the sender’s intention is to cause distress or anxiety to the reader or recipient. The offending material does not need to be directly addressed to the recipient; it can be a post about that person but made to the general public. The offence covers communications that are offensive, obscene, menacing or false.

Seeking an injunction

In this context, an injunction is an order from a court for the offending party to stop the conduct complained about. We have looked at injunctions in general in a previous blog post.

It is important to bear in mind that injunctions should be a ‘last resort’ remedy. The courts prefer the parties to first seek to resolve the matter between themselves. Therefore, the ordinary course of events is to first write to the other party requesting that they cease and desist from the harassment. One would usually also seek undertakings that they will refrain from similar conduct in future. If they don’t agree to give undertakings, explain that you will seek an order for an injunction. The purpose of this first letter is twofold. Firstly, to try to stop the offending party from its conduct; and secondly, to demonstrate to a court that you have taken all reasonable steps prior to making an application for an injunction, and it is now necessary for the Court to intervene.

If it appears that from the response to the first letter that the offending party either will not stop its conduct; or intends to ignore the letter and continue with its actions, then it may then be the appropriate stage at which to seek an injunction. You may seek an injunction on one of two bases: with notice to the other party or without. It is advisable to provide notice, if at all possible.

If you are concerned that you are being harassed, our dispute resolution team can assist. Call us today on 0800 988 7756 for a FREE initial consultation.


grievance procedure

Employers, do you have a proper grievance procedure?

Recent gender reassignment case highlights the need for employers to have a proper grievance procedure in place

A recent case involving Primark Stores Limited highlights the need for employers to follow an appropriate grievance procedure. The failure to do so in this case led, in part, to the decision that the employer had unfairly dismissed the employee by way of constructive unfair dismissal and subjected her to direct discrimination.
In simple terms, constructive unfair dismissal is where the employee terminates her employment contract as a result of the employer’s conduct towards her. This conduct must be a fundamental breach of the employment contract – i.e. serious and not trivial. The decision of the Tribunal led to the claimant receiving a substantial award.

The facts

The claimant employee in this case was a transgender woman. Gender reassignment is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010.
The claimant made a number of allegations against the employer. These include the claimant’s colleagues calling her by her previous name (continuously), making offensive comments and general bullying. As a consequence, the claimant raised a grievance with her employer and ultimately made a complaint to the police. The employer made serious errors in investigating and dealing with the grievance. Seven members of staff were interviewed by the employer. However, the investigation was not thorough and lacked care. The claimant was never informed of the outcome of her grievance nor given a right to appeal. The claimant subsequently resigned and brought this claim to the Employment Tribunal.
In its judgment the Employment Tribunal said:
“The other reason she resigned was because nothing was done about it, because she did not receive outcomes to her grievances, and because as a result of the inaction – right to the last minute – she was still subject to discriminatory actions by other employees… This failure was also direct discrimination. It was sufficiently serious to amount to a fundamental breach of contract entitling the claimant to resign”
The Claim was successful, and Primark was ordered to pay the claimant over £47,000 in damages.

What makes an effective grievance procedure?

The ACAS Code sets out good practice for employers to follow in relation to a grievance procedure. The Code is rather thorough, but the key points are as follows:

  1. Have a Company grievance procedure/policy in place and available to all employees;
  2. Deal with all grievances fairly and without unreasonable delay;
  3. Allow employees to raise grievances informally;
  4. Once an employer receives a written grievance, carry out an investigation into the matter;
  5. Allow the employee to be accompanied at the grievance or appeal hearing;
  6. Hold a grievance meeting with the employee;
  7. Provide the outcome to the grievance in writing;
  8. Notify the employee the right to appeal the outcome;
  9. Hold an appeal meeting;
  10. Provide the final outcome in writing.

There are a number of steps required to follow good practice in respect of a competent grievance procedure. If you require advice please contact our employment team on 0800 988 7756.


grievance procedure

Starting an employment discrimination claim

Generally, the Employment Tribunal hears employment discrimination claims (save for a few exceptions). These claims concern discrimination in relation to protected characteristics. These include (but are not limited to): age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion and sex. A discrimination claim normally needs to be submitted to the Tribunal within three months from the date of the act to which the complaint relates. This is extended to six months for members of the Armed Forces.

Evidence of discrimination

At the outset of a discrimination claim the task ahead may seem daunting, particularly evidentially. How do you go about obtaining evidence to prove your case? Often, it may be that there is only a suspicion that there has been an incident of discrimination. However, it is possible to obtain information from the employer. Previously there had been a formal procedure to do this. However, the government withdrew this this as they considered it to be too great an administrative burden upon employers.
ACAS has provided a helpful guide for employees on what questions to ask, and for employers on how to answer those questions.
Broadly, the questions should set out:

  • a background
  • the employee’s details
  • the basis on which they consider they may have been discriminated against
  • a description of the discriminatory treatment, and
  • why they consider the treatment to have been discriminatory.

The purpose of the questions is to try to obtain further information and evidence. In theory, the questions should also allow the parties to consider settlement of a prospective claim prior to the claimant commencing proceedings.
There is no sanction where an employer fails to reply to questions. However, the Tribunal may draw an inference where the employer fails to provide a response. A further important factor is that Tribunals will consider whether the employee had raised a grievance regarding the act of discrimination whilst the employee was in employment. Failure to raise a grievance at the time may result in a deduction in the award to the employee from the Tribunal.

Starting the claim

It is vitally important to have an ET1 (the Tribunal claim form) prepared by an expert in employment claims, particularly as discrimination is a complex area.  Within the ET1, you will set out the background to the claim, along with the legal test and explanation of the breach. Furthermore, you will need to detail the expected remedy; this will include an expected award for injury to feelings. There is also the potential for an uplift if an employer has failed to deal with a grievance appropriately.
Once the Tribunal has received the ET1, it will be served upon the employer. The employer will then have a period of time to submit its ET3. Thereafter, the Tribunal will provide directions to the parties for the management of the claim ahead of the hearing.
If you feel that you may have a discrimination claim, contact our Employment solicitors today. Contact us on 0800 988 7756 to make an appointment for a FREE initial consultation.
discrimination claim

Discrimination against vegans

Individuals are protected from discrimination if they hold one of the following protected characteristics:
Age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation.
With 542,000 vegans (and growing!) in the UK, we look at whether veganism could be considered a protected characteristic.

Is veganism a 'philosophical belief'?

There has been consideration of whether veganism is a protected characteristic under the heading of (philosophical) belief. Philosophical belief is broadly defined and has been addressed in the interesting case of Regina v. Secretary of State for Education and Employment and others (Respondents) ex parte Williamson (Appellant) and others. Here, it was said that a philosophical belief must:

  • attain a certain level of cogency, seriousness, cohesion and importance;
  • be worthy of respect in a democratic society; and finally,
  • not be incompatible with human dignity.

The Judges considered pacifism, vegetarianism and total abstinence from alcohol to be uncontroversial examples of philosophical beliefs.
When the Equality Act 2010 was in the process of being drafted, the Equality and Human Rights Commission addressed a number of philosophical beliefs which could potentially be considered as a protected characteristic. The Commission discussed veganism at the time (early 2010):
“A person who is a vegan chooses not to use or consume animal products of any kind. That person eschews the exploitation of animals for food, clothing, accessories or any other purpose and does so out of an ethical commitment to animal welfare.”
However, they did not confirm veganism to be protected characteristic. The government left it to the court’s discretion as to whether an employee should be protected from discrimination on this ground.

In practice

We have not yet seen a reported case where the court has looked directly at whether veganism would be considered as a protected characteristic. However, there has been an employment tribunal case which considered whether a belief in the sanctity of animal life was a protected philosophical belief. This case related to fox hunting. Therefore, there is potential for the courts to apply this reasoning to veganism.
However, people choose to become vegan for many reasons, not just because they believe that animals should not be killed for the benefit of humans. For example, many vegans choose to become vegan due to the health benefits and positive impact upon the environment.

Vegans may not apply

Earlier this year, it was reported that the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust ("the Trust") published a job advert for an occupational therapist in an Eating Disorders Service. The advert said that the Trust would not consider applicants with vegan diets.
The Vegan Society and the International Vegan Rights Alliance challenged the legality of the advert. They argued that it was discriminatory as the Trust had assumed that veganism was a restricted diet. The Vegan Society argued that veganism is not a restrictive diet at all, and therefore that the Trust had misunderstood veganism.
As a result, the Trust quickly amended the advert, deleting the reference to veganism, and made an apology.
While the court has yet to test whether veganism is a protected characteristic, it seems probable that discriminating against someone on grounds of their veganism would be unlawful.
If you are concerned that someone is discriminating against you, our employment team can assist. We offer a FREE initial consultation, so call us today on 0800 988 7756.

Negotiating an employment settlement agreement

Important, but often overlooked terms

Where an employer seeks to terminate an employee’s employment, doing it by settlement agreement is often a practical way to do so. This is because the parties will agree the terms of the termination, giving both sides certainty. The essence of the agreement is that an employee receives a payment in return for waiving claims against the employer.


Settlement agreements are, in the main, at the discretion of the parties. It is open to the parties to agree most of the terms, except those which statute requires. Negotiation discussions can often be swift if both parties are content with the terms which have been discussed and the scenario which has led to a settlement agreement being proposed. However, if there is a degree of acrimony between the parties and the situation which has led to the agreement being proposed is potentially the subject of a claim against the employer by the employee then matters can become more complex and protracted.

Key issues

Prior to entering into a settlement agreement, it is important for both parties to consider a few key issues. Firstly, why is the agreement being entered into?  This can include redundancy, a restructure or a breakdown of the relationship amongst other things.  Other key issues include the date of termination of employment and the amount of the settlement. There are also other key terms, such as the inclusion of a reference. However, there are further important terms which are often overlooked. We shall consider some of those terms now.

Tax considerations

It is important that all payments are properly accounted for tax purposes. Payments under settlement agreements can be treated in different ways for tax purposes. Pursuant to the Income Tax (Earnings and Pensions) Act 2003, the first £30,000 of ex-gratia payments are ordinarily tax free. However, payments which are simply earnings, but are referred to within the settlement agreement, shall be treated in the normal way (as earnings) for tax purposes.

Indemnity for tax purposes

A standard clause within settlement agreements is that the employee is to provide an indemnity to the employer, should any further tax liability arise pursuant to the settlement agreement. Should HMRC decide that the £30,000 payment (if it is up to this level) should not be exempt from tax, the HMRC will usually pursue the employer. However, in return the employer will likely to pursue the tax liability from the employee. It may be possible for the employee’s representative to negotiate that the tax liability does not apply. However, it is unlikely that the employer would agree to such a provision.

Release of claims

A common pitfall of settlement agreements is they include and deem waived certain claims that the employee still wishes to pursue. A prime example is if the employee has an ongoing personal injury claim. Therefore, it is important that the settlement agreement specifically refers to the claims which have been released.

A confidentiality clause or agreement not to make derogatory comments

It is normal procedure to agree a confidentiality clause, and one which states that the parties shall not make derogatory comments about each other.  For employers, the difficulty comes that it is essentially agreeing to ensure all its employees do not make any statements regarding the employee. The best way for employers to manage such requirements would be to ensure that only the employees directly dealing with the settlement agreement at the company are aware of its terms.

Legal fees

For a settlement agreement to be binding, the employee must have had legal advice. Ordinarily, therefore, employers contribute towards the employee’s legal fees. However, there is no obligation upon the employer to make the payment. The rate which the employer will pay is at the discretion of the employer.
Our employment team is very experienced in agreeing settlement agreements. Contact us today on 0800 988 7756 for a FREE initial consultation.
settlement agreement

Pay less notices and breaches of contract: Construction case update

Over the last couple of weeks, the Courts have published two rather helpful construction law cases. The first in relation to breaches of contract, and the other regarding pay less notices. We take a quick look at both, below.

Interserve Construction Ltd v Hitachi Zosen Inova AG [2017] EWHC 2633

The case of Interserve Construction Ltd v Hitachi Zosen Inova AG [2017] EWHC 2633 (TCC) was about the termination of a contractor’s employment. Judge Jefford concluded that a contractor should be given the opportunity to remedy a breach before the contract (and his employment) were terminated.


The contract was between Hitachi (the main contractor) and Interserve (the subcontractor). The relevant clause (clause 43) in the contract stated that Hitachi:
"…may (at its absolute discretion) notify the Contractor of the default and if the Contractor fails to commence and diligently pursue the rectification of the default within a period of seven (7) Days… terminate the employment of the Contractor under the Contract."
Hitachi decided to immediately terminate Interserve’s employment due to an alleged failure to proceed diligently with the works. It argued that it had absolute discretion to do so pursuant to the above clause. The Court disagreed with Hitachi’s approach and effectively overruled the consideration that Hitachi had absolute discretion.

Court’s decision

The Court states that, in order for Hitachi to terminate the contract, it must first invoke clause 43, allowing Interserve seven days to rectify the breach. The Court did not consider it optional. It went further to say that a failure to give notice pursuant to clause 43 meant that Hitachi were simply waiving the breach and right to rely upon it.
The lesson of this case is that, depending on the wording of the contract, not giving a party opportunity to remedy a breach, may itself be considered a breach of contract.

Adam Architecture Ltd v Halsbury Homes Ltd

In Adam Architecture Ltd v Halsbury Homes Ltd [2017] EWCA Civ 1735, the court confirmed that pay less notices need to be served if a party wishes to pay less than the sum applied for.  This is even in the circumstances where it is the final application for payment. This also applies where the contract has been completed or terminated.
Halsbury Homes is a property developer, Adam Architecture is an architectural practice. The developer retained Adam to design for the construction of 200 homes.
Halsbury informed Adam Architecture that it was going to use a different architect. As a result, Adam Architecture submitted its final application for payment. Halsbury Homes failed to serve a pay less notice in response. Adam Architecture then issued adjudication proceedings and was successful on the basis that Halsbury Homes had failed to issue a pay less notice.
Halsbury challenged the decision in the Court. They argued that the pay less regime did not apply. In the first instance in the High Court, Halsbury was successful. The Court’s reasoning was that Halsbury Homes’ obligations had been discharged as Adam Architecture had accepted their breach of contract.

Court of Appeal

On appeal again, the Court of Appeal rejected this. The Court of Appeal decided that the pay less regime still applied even after termination of the contract. The decision was based upon previous authorities including Rupert Morgan Building Services (LLC) Ltd v Jervis and Harding (t/a MJ Harding Contractors) v Paice in which the court considered it sensible that the pay less regime also applied to final applications for payment.
If you have a query relating to a construction contract or pay less notices, our construction disputes specialists can help. Call us today on 0800 9887756 for a free initial consultation.
pay less notices

Monitoring emails in the workplace

The European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) has considered a case regarding employers monitoring employees' emails. It has ruled that employers "cannot reduce private social life in the workplace to zero. Respect for private life and for the privacy of correspondence continues to exist, even if these may be restricted in so far as necessary".


The case related to a Romanian employee that had been using his work email address for private and professional communications. Mr Barbulescu's employer dismissed him in 2007 for using his professional email for private communications with his fiancée. His employer had been monitoring his emails and dismissed him on the basis that there was a blanket ban upon private use of professional accounts.
Mr Barbulescu challenged the decision to dismiss him. Eventually the challenge took him to the ECHR. Mr Barbulescu’s argument was that his private emails should be protected by Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which provides for a respect for private and family life.
The ECHR agreed with Mr Barbulescu that his right to privacy had been violated as he had not been adequately warned that his employer might monitor the communications.
The case will have an important impact upon the right to privacy within the workplace, particularly in relation to emails.

Practical implications

It is recommended that employers carry out an assessment prior to taking the decision to monitor employees’ emails. There is a balance to be struck between allowing employees the right to privacy on the one hand; and the business needs and necessity of the company on the other. The issues an employer should consider include:

  • Any adverse effects of monitoring;
  • What is the purpose of monitoring; and
  • Consider alternatives.

Employers should always consider whether the monitoring is justified. It is also important to inform employees that they may be monitored and tell them why this is the case. The importance of this need to inform employees means that employers should have an electronic communications policy. Such a policy should contain the following information:

  • Internet sites which should not be visited
  • Standards of conduct and performance
  • The banning of offensive emails
  • The consequences of inappropriate use

It is important that all policies in the workplace are well publicised and applied fairly and consistently.
If you are concerned about email monitoring in the workplace, our employment solicitors can assist. Call today for a FREE initial consultation on 0800 988 7756.