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TUC gets arsey about RIP email laws

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The Trades Union Congress has embarked on a mini-crusade for a code of practice for employers when using the new email snooping laws allowed under the RIP Act.

Under the new act, bosses are legally entitled to read their employees emails and monitor their phone calls and this has led to accusations of privacy invasion. Under the Human Rights Act people are entitled to a certain amount of privacy.

The RIP Act remains very ambiguous and the government is planning a code of practice to demonstrate how the new laws will be implemented in a practical sense. Right now this is a dog's dinner and is not expected out until the middle of next year.

But right now, employers have the legal right now to snoop on their staff, so the TUC is pushing for a corporate code of practice - which can no doubt be drawn up far faster than a governmental code.

Full details of the suggested code are not available but the major points have been outlined. Employees should be warned in advance that they are being monitored. Employers should ensure that correspondence between union reps and members not be read. Employees should be allowed "occasional and reasonable" personal use of email. They should remind employees that while on leave/holiday etc their emails may be checked by others.

These seem like a fair compromise between employee paranoia and employer concern. A code of practice would also seem to be the only viable option especially as legal answers to all the questions raised could be years away. ®

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