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SolicitorRM, Solicitor
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 3618
Experience:  Director and Principal Solicitor. UK
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My husband has an outlook account on his work computer. On

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My husband has an outlook account on his work computer. On that account are 3 work email addresses and his personal email address. He has not been at work for one year due to work related stress. This account had one overall password ***** access the account. When my husband left work this account was closed down and could not be accessed by him. He has used his own laptop at home to correspond with his union over his work related issues. His employer has revealed that they have read this correspondence between my husband and his employer and hence know the strategy that is being taken. Is this a breach of GDPR?
Assistant: Was this discussed with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: Was what discussed?
Assistant: Does the workplace operate with employees, freelancers, consultants, contractors or with unionised employees?
Customer: Employees- some are in their own unions.
Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Nope.

Hi thank you for your enquiry and your patience. Is your husband communicating with the union using one of the 3 work emails or his personal email? Is the laptop a work laptop and he has permission to use it whilst out of work?

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
No on his personal email address on his own laptop at home through the one and one web based service. However it would appear these have synced on the outlook web service on the work computer. However, his personal inbox would have had to be opened separately by them and pertinently they have then gone on to open his sent items of his correspondence with his union. Hope this information helps.

hi, that is a breach of his privacy, confidentiality and personal data. As private communication meets the definition of personal data as described in Article 4 of the GDPR, the employer would need to prove that they had a lawful ground to collect and monitor the information they got from his email - I doubt they can here. If it was known to them that he did use his personal email address on the work laptop they would have had to exercise caution when accessing his computer and to not progress should his emails had opened. His communication with the Union should be privileged and as such it was not intended for them and they should not have accessed them. Now all this should be considered in the context of use of personal emails on work equipment. The employer will have a policy on how employees could or could not access own private emails through the work resources and the implications of having done so. If there was an inadvertent error in opening emails on the laptop at work under the understanding the emails related to work then they could have a defence, tef if they have gone into the email more than the once and have admitted to the same then that would not be acceptable. I would urge him to check the work policies on use of work computers/laptops for personal use and then call the ICO to explain your situation as they will be able to guide him on whether it is worth taking it further.

I hope this is useful and I would be grateful for your rating at your earliest convenience. All the best

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thank you so much. We really appreciate your comprehensive response.

You are welcome. If it is not too much trouble may you kindly rate by clicking on the row of stars at the top on your screen in order for JA to acknowledge your feedback. All the best to your husband.

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