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Employer computer check

Can your employer check your work emails and computer or monitor you with CCTV in the workplace? Is it necessary for them to inform you or can they carry out such checks completely randomly and covertly?

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4 minutes of reading

General conditions for monitoring

Your employer may monitor your actions (in very general terms) under the following conditions:

  • Prior knowledge: employees must be informed in advance that their computer activity may be monitored. This information should be clearly stated in employment contracts or internal policies.
  • Legitimate reason: The employer should have a legitimate reason for the monitoring, such as protecting company assets, ensuring compliance with legal requirements, protecting network security, and preventing unauthorized use of company resources.
  • Respect for Privacy: While an employer may monitor activity, it should respect the privacy of employees and limit monitoring to what is strictly necessary to achieve a legitimate objective.
  • Legality: All forms of monitoring must comply with local privacy and employment laws.
  • Transparency and Equal Treatment: Monitoring procedures should be transparent and applied consistently to all employees.

Work computer only

The Labour Code implies that you must not use employer-owned equipment for private purposes without the employer’s consent. This also applies to computers or software used. Therefore, if your employer does not allow you to use the computer, for example for surfing the internet, you must not use the computer for anything other than work purposes.

If an employer finds through monitoring thatan employee is regularly visiting non-work related websites such as online games or social mediaduring working hours and thereby significantly reducing his or her work performance, this can lead to dismissal. Another example is the use of company email to send inappropriate content or for personal communications that violate company rules or even laws (e.g. sending offensive messages, disseminating sensitive information, etc.). Even in such cases, the employer may initiate the termination process.

The company may monitor you

Compliance with the prohibition on the use of computer technology can then be reasonably monitored by the employer. For example, by using software that records your movements on the website, from which it can be estimated which activities were work-related and which were no longer work-related. Importantly, however, these checks must also reasonably respect your privacy – for example , it is not an option for your employer to study and archive your private emails.

Excessive surfing and dismissal

If you are found to be spending a large part of your working hours on private activities, this is grounds for dismissal. However, the employer should base this conclusion not only on an automated software check, but also, for example, on a review of your workplace activities and an interview with you. In a recent case, the courts ruled on the case of an employee who spent more than 100 hours in one month surfing the internet and playing games. They upheld the validity of the termination of employment, as might be expected. A single private email, on the other hand, should naturally not be enough to terminate.

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Tip: Mr Antonín contacted us with a question about whether an employer can track or monitor employees at work with an industrial camera. On the one hand, one can understand that the employer is looking out for its own interests. On the other hand, there is the right to privacy of employees. So what are the rules? Can an employer monitor its employees, make a record of it and then use it against them, e.g. for the purpose of dismissal? This is discussed in the next article.

Cameras in the workplace just for safety

When it comes to monitoring employees by cameras and similar means, this is only an option where there is a compelling reason for it based on the nature of the employer’s business: for example, the need to protect your safety, or where employees work with large amounts of money. However, in this case you must be informed in advance of the monitoring by your employer. Even in this case, the monitoring must not be unduly intrusive or invasive of your privacy. Of course, the law does not allow the placement of CCTV in, for example, toilets or changing rooms.

The CCTV footage should then be evaluated within a few hours or days and, if it does not reveal any findings, unless it is legitimately required to be used further (e.g. to prove that a theft has occurred), the employer must delete it. Persons entering a shop with CCTV surveillance from outside, for example, must be informed of this, for example by a sign posted in the shop.

Tip: The fact that cameras are pointed at us on the streets, in the doorways of large companies or in the entrances of apartment buildings is slowly becoming a common reality that we count on. But more and more people are installing cameras in their homes. What is driving them to do this and what does the law say? And what about theuse of recordings inprivate in general? That’s the subject of our next article.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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