The expectation of privacy at work and in work emails

I read a column in the Globe & Mail this week called “Nine to Five”. An employee had written in complaining that her boss was in her office, looking through documents, though she had locked the door.

The answers no doubt surprised the employee: the boss was within their rights to go through the employee’s office.

Employees need to understand that everything at the office is the property of the employer. Work created while employed becomes the work of the employer, not the employee.

Similarly, the employer owns the work email address that employees use. The employer is entitled to shut it down if you are terminated or to browse through the logs (yes, your employer can keep logs) to see what is being emailed.

A good rule of thumb is never use your work email address for something you wouldn’t put on letterhead. You wouldn’t send your child’s hockey coach a letter on your employer’s letterhead, so don’t provide that email to the league and have it be the primary point of contact.

Keep your personal life and your professional life separate, that way your personal life can continue seamlessly on the internet, long after you retire from your work life.

Inga B. Andriessen JD
iandriessen@andriessen.ca

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