The concept of the right to privacy requiring employers to act in a socially responsible manner in relation to personal information that they hold concerning their employees has long been debated. However, it appears that the courts have preferred to adapt actions for breach of confidence to provide a remedy for the unauthorised disclosure of personal data.

The right to privacy and family life, home and correspondence appears under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This can include activities of a professional or business nature.

This therefore recognises a worker’s rights to a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to claims for unfair dismissal or breach of the implied term of trust and confidence under the contract of employment. For example, the employee may claim that the dismissal may be unfair if the evidence behind the reason for dismissal was obtained from covert use of CCTV surveillance which was in breach of privacy and not justifiable under a Data Protection code.

The same principles might also apply to intrusive body searching, drug and alcohol testing and similar activities although it should be emphasised that this is an indication only of how a court or Tribunal may act in such circumstances.

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