Swiss Federal Supreme Court rules against monitoring of an employee's internet use

7 juillet 2013 – On 17 January 2013, the Swiss Federal Supreme Court decided that the termination notice served by an employer was invalid (BGE 139 II 7). The employer terminated the employment contract because the employee used the company computer (e-mail and internet) for private purposes during working hours. To confirm the suspected misuse of the computer, the employer used a programme to monitor the use of e-mail and internet by the suspected employee. The monitoring revealed that the employee spent a considerable part of his working hours for not work-related purposes.

The court held that such covert monitoring – which lasted for three months and took regular screenshots – was illegal and not proportionate. The monitoring was extensive and not backed by an internal policy that permitted monitoring under particular, transparently disclosed circumstances.