An employee can be fired for using corporate e-mail for personal purposes at work.
Corporate (or work) e-mail is an e-mail address owned by the company and assigned to you for professional activities. In case of using this address for the personal correspondencewithin working hours, employer may terminate the labor contract with just cause without waiting for the notice period and paying any severance.
According to a recent ruling of Turkish Constitutional Court; employer has the right to monitor every electronic mails send to or from company’s e mail address and that would not constitute a violation of right of privacy or violation of communication confidentiality. Also, termination of employment contract in such a case is found appropriate by the Court.
The ruling comes after the individual appeals of two employees, who are fired for personal use of company’s email address between their personal correspondences during working hours, and claimed that their right of privacy and confidentiality of communication are violated. But the claim declined by the Court.
EMPLOYER’S RIGHT TO BREAK THE CONTRACT FOR JUST CAUSE
Pursuant to Article 25 of Labor Law No. 4857, the employer may terminate the contract, whether for a definite or indefinite period, before its expiry or without having to comply with the prescribed notice periods, in the following cases:
I. For reasons of health,
II. For immoral, dishonorable or malicious conduct or other similar behavior,
III. Force majeure,
IV. Due to the employee’s being taken into custody or due to his arrest, his absence from work exceeds the notice period indicated in Article 17.
In the light of the above said Court ruling the personal use of company e-mail can be deemed as a dishonest act against the employer, and a breach of trust and the article 25/II-e) “If the employee commits a dishonest act against the employer, such as a breach of trust, theft or disclosure of the employer’s trade secrets” can be applicable.
WHAT TO DO AND DO NOT?
In our opinion, when it comes to dismissing a personnel for the mentioned violation, the frequency and content of the mails should be a determining factor; for example a limited amount of correspondence with not so much appropriate content may be permissible, however it is advisable to avoid any personal use of e-mail address assigned to you and do not forget the following principles;
- Be well aware of your company’s communication policy,
- Company’s a mail are just for business purposes,
- Your employer have the right to read the mails,
- Deleting such mails is not a solution, because most companies store them for certain periods,
- You can use your personal e-mail when the real need arises while you are at work within reason.
On the other and it should be the employers’ duty to remind their policies as regard to email use, and personnel should be instructed regularly by internal directives on the matter.