Rogue e-mailers win right to new jobs

Three employees who lost their jobs after sending more than 1,000 personal e-mails at work in less than a week were unfairly dismissed, according to an employment tribunal.

The three claimants – Yvonne Long, Helen Longridge and Karen Duncan – sent the e-mails over a six-day period at a Scottish Power call centre. Long sent and received 745.

Scottish Power’s policy on e-mail use stated that employees could make ‘limited and reasonable use’ of e-mail facilities for private use.
However, the tribunal in Glasgow ruled that the company’s policy was not clear on personal use and ordered that the trio be found new jobs.

In a statement, Scottish Power said: “Most people reading details of the sheer volume of the messages and the language used could only agree that they fall outside any definition of reasonable personal use.”

Sarah Empson, employment solicitor at Steeles law firm, said it was not just Scottish companies that need to make sure they had a clear policy on e-mailing.

While Scottish tribunal decisions are outside the jurisdiction of English and Welsh tribunals, the decision could be “highly persuasive” in future cases throughout the UK, she said.

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