Bosses allowed to read workers' texts, top French court rules

Reuters / Mosab Omar
Employers in France now have a legal right to keep close tabs on their employees. The country's Supreme Court has officially allowed top brass to read their subordinates’ SMS messages sent from work phones.

According to the judgment, text messages sent or received through a work phone “are assumed to be of a professional nature,” in other words work-related. Only the warning “personal” at the beginning of the message will stop your boss from reading the message about your private life, which, for some reason, was sent to your work phone.

All work-related messages can meanwhile be viewed and even taken to court "for legitimate reasons," especially if they contain insults, allegations of suspected fraud or breach of confidentiality.

According to France's Metro News, the court's decision taken on February 10 has gone "completely unnoticed," but involves "hundreds of thousands of employees." Local media have only been reporting it during the past 24 hours.

The ruling states that bosses “have the right to consult messages on the work phone in the presence of the employee, unless the messages are clearly identified as being personal,” French daily Les Échos says.

"The use of such messages by the employer cannot be equated with the recording of a private telephone call made without the knowledge of the author," the Supreme Court states.

Top Court lawyer Jean-Philippe Duhamel said the ruling is made “for consistency and simplicity.” A similar ruling was made two years ago regarding work computer systems and emails sent from work accounts.