Hanno Timner writes:
On February 16, 2011, the Higher Labor Court of Berlin-Brandenburg Germany ruled that an employer has the right to access and review work-related email correspondence of an employee during his/her absence from work (e.g. for reasons of illness or vacation). According to this ruling, such a review of the employee’s email is not prevented by an employee’s right to use the company email system for private correspondence as well. Through its decision, the Higher Labor Court has contributed to the ongoing debate in Germany about whether permitting an employee to use company equipment for private email correspondence leads to an application of the so-called “secrecy of telecommunications” (Telekommunikationsgeheimnis) and thus effectively precludes an employer’s right to access the employee’s email correspondence at all, including the business correspondence.
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