Can an employer watch your work laptop?

15 May 2021Updated: 4 hours ago | 52 people are reading

Can an employer watch your work laptop?

© Unsplash Employer watching laptop laptop working from home

Working from home, some people have been doing it for years, but it is not self-evident in every company. There are plenty of employers who don't fully trust their employees and for good reason. Now that everyone is at home, it is a lot more difficult to check what someone is doing. You may just lie in the sun all day. The question is, of course, whether an employer can watch with work email or a company laptop.

Control versus privacy

Checking employees is not prohibited, says the Dutch Data Protection Authority. This can be done at the office, for example, by camera surveillance or at home via software where you have to log in when you are working. This way, an employer can check you, if enough privacy is taken into account. If there is stricter control, there must also be legitimate reasons that outweigh privacy. This could be, for example, due to suspicions of criminal offenses or as a last resort in discovering theft or fraud.

Can an employer watch?

But that is still not entirely answer to the question about looking in the company work email or laptop. Let's start by saying that it is possible, but also under certain conditions. An employer cannot completely prohibit private use of email and internet during working hours. An employee also has the right to privacy in this. Then it must remain within limits, of course, both in terms of time and content. Watching porn during working hours is not allowed, for example. If there is a suspicion that this has happened, an employer may monitor randomly whether prohibited use of e-mail or the internet is taking place. Mind you, continuous monitoring is therefore not allowed.

(Source: Dutch Data Protection Authority)