Can an employer monitor an Employee’s e-mail account?

A decision from European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has cast doubt on whether it is legal for an employer to monitor an employee’s e-mail account.

Today (19th February 2021), the Supreme Court gave their decision on the long running case brought by some Uber drivers who claimed that they were “Workers” and not Self Employed and therefore entailed to minimum wage, accrued holiday pay, statutory sick pay etc.

The case has been running since 2016 when an Employment Tribunal ruled that Uber drivers were Workers and not self-employed.

The case has wide ranging implications for the gig economy. It adds to the weight of judicial authority, building on cases such as Autoclenz and Pimlico Plumbers, that has emphasised the need to rely less on the written contractual terms and more on what happens in reality when considering questions such as: Who controls what goes on? Who takes the financial risk? Who supplies the equipment required to perform the tasks? Is there an unfettered right for the individual to appoint a substitute to carry out the work?

It is estimated that it could cost Uber £100 million and also means that drivers could now bring cases of discrimination.

The Supreme court highlighted that any attempt by organisations to draft artificial contracts aimed at side-stepping basic protections were void and unenforceable. Judges criticised the controversial contracts Uber asked their drivers to sign, saying they “can be seen to have as their object precluding a driver from claiming rights conferred on workers by the applicable legislation”.

This case will have an impact in particular on the courier industry and other taxi firms like Addison Lee who have cases running at the moment.

More details will be sent once the dust has settled.

Article by Ashley Healy AJC Law

If you would like to discuss this decision further and how it might effect your business please do not hesitate to contact us. Anthony Corps Director T: 01904 755222