May an employer check an employee’s emails?

Yes, South African employers are legally allowed to monitor employee emails under certain circumstances. The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act (RICA) of 2002 sets out the legal framework for the interception of communications in South Africa.

Employers are allowed to monitor employee emails if they have obtained the employee’s consent or if they have a legitimate interest in doing so. Legitimate interests may include protecting the company’s assets, ensuring that employees are not engaging in illegal activities, or ensuring that employees are using company resources appropriately.

However, employers must also balance the right to monitor emails with the right to privacy of their employees. Employers should have clear policies and procedures in place regarding email monitoring, and employees should be made aware of these policies.

Ask your lawyer to help you formulate a formal workplace policy governing employees’ use of their computers and other devices or carefully review and update any policy that is already in place.

It is also important to note that employers may not monitor emails that are considered privileged, such as emails between an employee and their lawyer.

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not to provide legal advice. For more information on the topic of legal advice, please contact SVN Attorneys)

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