Can the employer monitor, access, review the employee’s electronic communications?
No specific French employment law provisions currently address issues raised by employees’ social media use. Employers can set out the general conditions of use and restrict access to the Internet in the workplace, but they have to be cautious, as all employees have a right to privacy, even at the workplace during working time (article L. 1121-1 of the French Labour Code). For example, the employer may access the employees’ professional emails under very restrictive conditions. Besides, employees benefit from the freedom of speech principle, within the company and outside of it, which can only be restricted for legitimate grounds. Article L.2323-47 provides that the company’s Works Council, if any, must be informed and consulted prior to the implementation of any means aimed at monitoring or controlling the employees’ activities.
Employee’s Use of Social Media to Disparage the Employer or Divulge Confidential Information
Employers may limit the use of social networks by requiring that employees do not disclose confidential information or trade secrets by implementing an obligation of confidentiality or codes of conduct.
Concerning denigration, the French Supreme Court ruled that a comment on a social media platform may be considered private or public depending on the privacy settings of the relevant account. The more accessible a comment is, the more likely it will be deemed public and punishable, as the case may be.