Employers who contact staff at home could face legal action

Employers have been warned not to telephone staff
at home because they could be sued for invasion of privacy.

The Institute of Management has published a
leaflet informing its 89,000 members that under the Human Rights Act, managers
risk legal action if they contact their staff outside work hours unless employees’
contracts state that home calls are acceptable.

A manager may be able to argue that the
monitoring of an employee’s phone or e-mail is reasonable if employees have
been told that such behaviour is a disciplinary offence and checks are
necessary to detect breaches of company regulations, according to the IM.

The publication of the leaflet follows the
introduction of the Human Rights Act 1998 which became law in the UK in October
last year.

But Dominic Johnson,
head of employment relations at the CBI, thinks there are occasions when
employers have a legitimate right to contact their staff at home.

He said, “There is no
case law which demonstrates the act prohibits employers contacting employees at
home. Of course employees’ privacy should be respected. But there are occasions
when the needs of the organisation must come first.”

“That is not to say the
CBI supports unnecessary or inappropriate intrusions. But at times of
organisational crisis or, for instance, where an employee is absent without
explaining why, it is quite legitimate to contact them.”

www.inst-mgt.org.uk

Karen Higginbottom

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