At work, the IT resources made available to employees must be used for professional purposes. However, the charters of use or the rules put in place within companies are not always respected. It therefore happens that personal messages are sent or that personal files are stored by employees. Is the employer authorized to access it? If so, in which cases?
Message consultation: professional / personal messaging
Everyone has the right to respect for their private life and the secrecy of their private correspondence, even at work. Even if the use of the tools made available for personal purposes is prohibited within the company, the employer cannot freely consult the personal emails of his employees . To be considered as personal, must be indicated in the subject line of “Personal” or “Private” emails. They must also be stored in a “Personal” or “Private” directory.
There is no longer any protection if a judicial investigation is underway or if a judge has authorized the employer to access the messages. In the event of a dispute, the courts must assess the regularity and proportionality of the employer’s access to the messaging system. Thus, the judge may be asked to call on a bailiff to take cognizance of the employer’s messages.
The employer does not have the right to consult the emails received or sent by the employee on his personal messaging, even if the use of this one was made with the tool made available by the company for purposes professional. The messages are covered by the secrecy of correspondence. The mention “Personal” or “Private” is not necessary.
Viewing files: storage and access
Personal file storage: allowed or not?
All files stored on the computer tool made available by the company are supposed to be professional. However, it is generally allowed to store personal documents as long as they are stored in folders called “Personal” or “Private”. Naming files with their first name, initials, “Miscellaneous” or “My documents” does not give them a personal character.
Access to files
The employer can freely access the files, as they are professional by default. He cannot access personal files:
- only in the presence of the employee or after calling him
- in the event of a particular risk or event, the assessment of which is up to the courts
In addition, the employer cannot sanction an employee based on the content of a personal or private message.