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Data Protection Registrar works towards e-mail guidelines

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The Government’s Data Protection Commissioner is drawing up guidelines in response to employee concerns over recent rulings allowing company e-mails to be screened by business managers and owners later this year.

Speaking on Radio 5’s Breakfast programme, Diane Sinclair, Employee Relations Adviser with the CIPD highlighted the requirement for for clear guidelines for people in the workplace supported by training in correct e-mail use.

“Everyone needs to know where they stand so that no one gets any surprises where employees’ e-mails are concerned. We want some guidance on the law for employers, but we don’t think that the Commissioner’s draft Code of Practice is the best way forward: it’s simply not realistic in the context of employment relationships, it’s too long and too prescriptive. We think the Commissioner’s objective could be achieved by something much shorter and less prescriptive.”

“Employers need to protect employees from bullying or harassment by colleagues which can be conducted by e-mail. Managers must also prevent employees from time wasting and also, in the past employers have been sued over libellous e-mails sent by employees. So, employers do have a responsibility to know what employees are doing.”

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