Email monitoring . . . what’s public and what’s private?
WHILE there is generally no reason to expect that your employer is monitoring every communication on your work email address, the employer is entitled to monitor all workplace email communications. For this reason, a sensible approach to how you use the work email should be taken. A rule of thumb is not to use your work email for anything you wouldn’t want your employer to see, including such things as job applications or notifications, jokes or images that may be construed as inappropriate, or personal information that you would not want to be made public. IN MOST organisations, emails written using work accounts are actually the property of your organisation so the simple answer is work emails are never private. However, most businesses allow their employees to send personal emails via the company network as long they don’t contravene the company email policy. But be careful what you send – emails that run through a company network can’t be destroyed and can be accessed and monitored at any time. However impractical, the only safe policy is to assume that everything you send is being read by your boss. IN 2000 the Federal Government introduced the National Privacy Principles to address privacy issues within the private sector. However, people need to remember that while emails may have been deleted from your email program, they are never really gone. And while messages may have been sent from your own personal email provider via your work network, in certain circumstances IT administrative staff will be able to legitimately access staff email and browsing logs. Given this, my advice to people is that they should keep to work-related activities when utilising work email. YOUR employers can monitor your emails if they wish to do so. The servers that power your workplace computer are owned by your employer. Emails have most definitely been used in disciplinary matters so don’t for a moment think that what you write at work is private. Even if you use the office computer to log into a personal email service, your employer can still access those emails. Work time, work equipment, work servers equals access. There also has been a case where an employee landed himself in hot water over emails he sent from home but logging into the office email.