How private are work communications?


17 August 2021

By Josh Fresle

Have you ever stopped to wonder whether messages or emails you send to colleagues at work are truly private?

Streaming platform and production company, Netflix, recently terminated three of its employees for criticising other employees on business messaging app Slack. Although the terminated employees may have believed they were sending private messages, according to the BBC, Ted Sarandos, co-CEO of Netflix explained that “the slack channel was open, so anyone could access the conversations”.

While some sectors, especially those which are highly regulated, may monitor internal communications regularly, most businesses tend to only monitor and retrospectively check internal communications when necessary e.g. if there is a complaint about an employee or other investigation taking place. Internal communications can include work email accounts, messages, and even video calls. Even communications which you think are private, if carried out on work equipment, are likely to be able to be recorded and monitored.

Many employers will state in their employee handbook that they can record and monitor internal communications and will often prohibit the use of work equipment for personal use or other forms of misuse

Employees should be careful about what they say in internal communications and should only utilise work equipment for its appropriate use.

This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.