If you are going to send personal messages during your work day, you should be aware that your boss is legally entitled to read them.
A European ruling has declared that an organisation has the right to read private chat and e-mails sent by employees from the office during working hours. This ruling comes from the result of the appeal of Romanian engineer, Bogdan Barbulescu, who was fired in 2007 after his employers went through personal and work-related messages sent via Yahoo Messenger.
The BBC report states that the judges felt that his employer had a right to check on his activities. They said that it was not “unreasonable that an employer would want to verify that employees were completing their professional tasks during working hours." In addition, because his employers believed that they were accessing a work account, the firm had not erred, according to the judges.
One interesting facet of this case is that the Messenger account was a work one, and therefore should strictly speaking have only been used for work-related correspondence. Despite claims that a second, personal account was accessed, the judges only discussed the work account in their ruling.
They did not say whether it would have made any difference if he had used a personal device. The judges did note that work policies that give an employer the right to check on employee activities must also protect workers against unfettered snooping.
If you are going to send personal messages while at work, you should be extra careful about what you write.