The European Court of Human Rights have ruled that it was perfectly in order that an employer read a workers private messages sent via chat software and webmail accounts during working hours and using the employers device.
The worker involved was an engineer in Romania, but this decision also affects all countries bound by the European Convention on Human Rights which of course, includes Britain.
The employer had banned staff from sending personal messages at work. Mr. Barbulescu argued that he had a right to a private life under the Human Rights Act, but lost his case in the domestic courts in Romania and has now lost under appeal to the ECHR.
Mr. Barbulescu had prior warning that the company could check his messages and it was deemed that the employer had a right to check the employees activities by checking his messages on his work account. Mr. Barbulescu was using his Yahoo messenger account for both personal and business use.
So if you are an employer and don't want your workers stealing your time to send personal messages, make it 100% clear in their contract and ensure that your employees understand and consent to your rules explicitly.
Read the full BBC article here