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Know this before you monitor your employee's communication during business hours...

by , 14 August 2013
If you think you can just read your employee's emails because you're their employer, you're wrong. If you breach your employee's right to privacy, you could face a fine of up to R2 million, or ten years in jail. Read on to discover the three requirements you must meet if you want to monitor your employee's communication during work hours.

According to the Regulation of Interception of Communications and provision of Communication-related information Act (RICA), you can only intercept and read your employee's emails if she gives your permission to do so, says the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.

Over and above this, there are three requirements you must meet if you want to monitor your employee's communication during work hours.

Three requirements you must meet before you monitor your employee's communication

#1: The interception must be for the purpose of monitoring or keeping record of indirect communications (such as emails). You must do this to:

  • Establish facts. For example, if you're investigating misconduct relating to false invoices and you need to find out if your employee sent out an email with details of those invoices).
  • Investigate or detect the unauthorised use of that telecommunications system. For example, if your system is very slow because employees are using the Internet or email system for private purposes, you might want to monitor unauthorised use of your system); or
  • Secure the effective operation of the system. For example, to make sure that jpegs or other attachments aren't clogging up the system.

#2: You must also have provided the telecommunications system for use wholly or partly in connection with the business.

This means you must have provided the computer or telephone to employees to allow them to do their job. Even if they're allowed to use the computer or telephone for personal use, as long as the tools are also required for them to do their job, you'll fulfill this requirement.

#3: The system controller must have made all reasonable efforts to inform the user (employee) of the system in advance that the email may be intercepted. You'll do this through your communications policy.

if your employee has consented to the interception (either by express or implied consent), you don't need to worry about this requirement.

Express consent means that your employee signed a document that expressly authorises you to intercept the email.

Implied consent would apply if, for example, you have a message that pops up every time your employee signs into your system, which says that if your employee uses the system, he's deemed to have given consent.

Well there you have it. Make sure you meet these requirements before you hack into your employee's email.



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