What about emails from absent or laid-off employees?

You had to say goodbye to one of your employees. Always a pity, but your company does not stand still. Suddenly you are told that one of your customers has sent an email to the address of the former employee! What can you do or not do as an employer with the mailbox of (former) employees? Read what your rights and obligations are according to the GDPR legislation.

Can I read employees’ professional emails?

Yes, this is possible provided you meet a few conditions. Since you provide access to data such as personal data, you need to put some things in order. All employees must be informed that the company can access the employee’s mailbox at any time.

The most common way to do this is a mention in the work regulations. This is only limited to communication that is crucial for the continuity of the company. How broadly you understand this as an employer or employee is open to discussion and it is therefore best to agree clearly in advance.

What are your duties as an employer?

In addition to drawing up clear rules and information to your employees about this rule, you also need to carry out some other things.

First and foremost, you sensitize your employees and by this we mean the following things: set up out-of-office replies, ensure automatic forwarding of emails in their absence or farewell, optimize the processing of emails to a GDPR-correct CRM system. The most important remains the clear statement in the work regulations. This must explicitly state that the company can grant itself access to this mailbox.

A golden tip to give both your company and the employee peace of mind; Do not allow mixed use (private and professional) on business mail addresses. When accessing a mixed mailbox, a third independent party must be involved to ensure that only business communications will be read.

What do I do with the mailbox of a former employee?

Arrange everything with the employee before he leaves the company, recover all unhandled e-mails and delete all private communication. Make sure that he is again aware of the work regulations and the paragraph stated therein stating that the company can access the communication in his mailbox.

If both parties sign this together again, you avoid any possibility of a future dispute. Interesting to take with you: A company may destroy the mailbox of a former employee.