The European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that employers can legally monitor their workers’ private online chats.

Monitoring your employees is a great way to measure their productivity. It also gives you insight into how your resources are being allocated and provides a vital second line of security defense against hacking and data theft.

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding around employee monitoring, however. One of the most common is the misconception that monitoring employees and their communications is illegal.

The European Court of Human Rights ruling

The recent court case involved a Romanian engineer who was sacked by his employer after they read his Yahoo Messenger chats and found that he had been using it to send personal messages. The engineer, Bogdan Babulescu, argued that his right to a private life was breached when his employer read his personal messages.

The court, however, ruled that there was no breach and that the employer had taken appropriate action to check that the account, which was set up specifically for work communication. The employer had also expressly banned Bogdan from using the account for personal communications.

EU Monitoring Laws

The ruling reinforces the fact that monitoring is legal in Europe.

According to EU law, it is legal to monitor employees computers and smartphones with their agreement and awareness.

Similarly, it is legal to monitor employees’ keystrokes, emails, and computer screens as long as the employee has agreed and is aware of this action.

In practice, this means that as long as an employer informs their employees that they will be monitored in their work policies and that employee agrees to them, it is entirely legal to monitor an employees’ computer, smartphone or tablet.

How to monitor your employees

Conceivably by now you’re convinced that it’s legal to monitor your employees. Not only does EU law state it but the recent court case in Romania has re-affirmed it.

If you want to benefit from keeping an eye on your employees, the best way to do so is through employee monitoring software.

Solutions such as KnowIT can be remotely installed onto all of your company devices, from computers to smartphones, and can monitor exactly what software and websites your employees use. In addition, it can monitor email, text and voice communications.

KnowIT can also be set up to alert managers whenever certain keywords are used or sensitive data is accessed or copied. This makes it a great way to provide extra security against hacking and data leaks, as well as getting a very clear picture of how efficiently your employees are working, when they’re actually working and what they’re doing.