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Small business law: Do you understand worker privacy?

Running a business requires a certain level of knowledge regarding all facets of daily operations. It is natural for entrepreneurs to have a hand in everything and to know what is going on, especially among workers. However, some business owners feel worried that they may accidentally take things a step or so too far. While worker privacy is protected by small business law, Wisconsin employers are also afforded a certain level of protection when monitoring employees.

Depending on the needs of a business, employees might spend a large portion of their working hours online. Activities made on a business computer system are usually not protected under personal privacy laws, and employers generally have the right to monitor computer activity as they see fit. Emails sent from company computer systems are also generally considered company property, and employers can monitor and retain copies of emails.

Employee privacy regarding phone calls is a little more protected than computer usage. Although employers can monitor both voicemail messages and phone conversations while at work, the law limits employers in some aspects. Whereas all emails sent from company systems can be considered company property, private phone calls -- even those made in the workplace -- cannot be monitored without permission from employees.

Worker privacy is important, but privacy in the workplace must work alongside the needs of the business. Walking this line can be confusing for business owners in Wisconsin. To avoid accidentally violating small business law, business owners may want to consider speaking with an attorney who can fully explain this matter.

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