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Contacting Employees in Their Homes

By: Matthew Strawbridge - Updated: 10 Dec 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Employee Home Privacy Phone Office

It can be difficult for some people, especially those in demanding jobs, to maintain a work-life balance. Once they have left the office, they should be allowed to relax in peace without having to be on their guard in case a colleague suddenly gets in touch with a problem.

This article looks at the different mediums by which employees may be contacted in their homes, and discusses the privacy elements of each.

Post

If it is necessary for a business to contact its employees outside work about a non-urgent matter, sending a letter through the post is probably the way least likely to raise privacy concerns.

Employees must be given the opportunity to opt out of receiving anything other than routine communication, such as pay slips, by this method. If the business has an internal postal system, this may be a cheaper, quicker and less intrusive method still for sending information to employees.

Telephone

Many people object to receiving calls when they are trying to relax at home. People can sign up to the Telephone Preference Service if they do not wish to receive unsolicited marketing calls, but they may have a harder time filtering out unwanted calls from their workplace.

Unless employees’ contracts explicitly states that they must be available outside normal working hours, phoning them at these times is an invasion of their privacy.

Employees are perfectly entitled to withhold their numbers if they so choose. After all, they would be entirely within their rights to decide they didn’t wish to have either a land line or a mobile, in which case there would be no number to give!

Of course, if someone has received a company mobile, then they may be called on it when they are not in the office, even if they are on holiday or it is outside their normal working hours. This is acceptable if the person has agreed to be called in case of emergency, particularly if they are being paid to be on standby. Otherwise, they are within their rights to turn off a company mobile when they do not wish to be called, and have cause for complaint if they are phoned at home.

Email

People can easily become addicted to sending and receiving email, particularly when they can do so from their mobiles. Employees need to learn to switch off, and not to access their work email remotely unless they really need to. Businesses need to instill a culture in their staff such that employees do not expect an immediate answer to emails if they send them out of office hours.

Visiting in Person

Perhaps the most outrageous invasion of an employee’s privacy would be for a colleague to call on them at their house without having been invited. It is difficult to think of a situation in which this would be appropriate behaviour; perhaps only if there were an emergency and the person making contact was completely sure that their approach would be welcomed, and then only after an attempt to get in touch with the person by all other means had failed.

An Englishman’s Home is His Castle!

People in this country are willing to put up with all manner of inconveniences in the outside world as long as they can retreat to their own properties, lock their doors and be left in peace. It follows that employees should only be contacted outside of work if it is strictly necessary and they have given their approval.

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I work in a store doing night shifts and my manager leaves messages on Facebook messenger at least once a day if not more is this harassment and can I stop her doing this?
SaraLaw - 10-Dec-18 @ 5:04 PM
I was emailed out of working matters regarding work by HR. Is this an infringement of my rights.
Doc - 3-Dec-18 @ 8:58 AM
I was contacted by text message that I had left the shop messy, employer knew I was on a long weekend break with family. I said she could waited till I returned on the Tuesday to tell me that. She said no that she wouldn’t at anytime. I am only a sales assistant and felt that tell the shop was left was very untidy was not important enough to spoil my break
Den - 3-Oct-18 @ 8:35 PM
@TM - It is standard procedure to ensure your successful return to work, that you will need to have a return to work conversation with your manager. You will also need to work with your manager to develop a return to work plan, and a plan for reviewing work and health.
GreGV - 13-Sep-18 @ 10:52 AM
I have been signed off of work by my doctor due to exhaustion and some anxiety which has been caused by work. My direct manager keeps getting in contact with me requesting updates, I have told him that I will be returning to work once my sick note ends this week. However he is still insisting on me having a phone call with him to discuss any updates regarding my return to work even though i have already given it to him. Can you offer some advice please as even the thought of having to deal with thi ps manager in giving me anxiety.
TM - 12-Sep-18 @ 1:39 PM
Sicknote - Your Question:
I have been on long term sick. My employer has been in constant contact asking me to attend welfare meetings occupational health meetings and even a company doctor meeting. At what point is this harassment? Is this legal?

Our Response:
If you are in England or Wales and you have been off work for four weeks or more your employer may refer you to the new Fit for Work service for a voluntary occupational health assessment. You can see more via the link here, where you can speak to someone regarding this matter.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 6-Sep-18 @ 3:27 PM
I have been on long term sick. My employer has been in constant contact asking me to attend welfare meetings occupational health meetings and even a company doctor meeting. At what point is this harassment? Is this legal?
Sicknote - 5-Sep-18 @ 11:16 AM
Ana- Your Question:
My workplace messaged me on my day off to come into work to cover someone who was ill. I confirmed I would come into work. I send them a message telling them I am on my commute to the store. 20 minutes later, as I’m arriving, I receive a message saying they no longer need me and I should go home. I still walked into the store and asked if they still needed me, and they said no and “thank you for your dedication. At least you can enjoy your time in the area”. I was wondering if this is an infringement of my employee rights as I did not get compensation and was made to commute to my work place unnecessarily?

Our Response:
You would have to speak to your manager directly regarding this matter in order to try to resolve it.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 23-Jul-18 @ 11:16 AM
My workplace messaged me on my day off to come into work to cover someone who was ill.I confirmed I would come into work. I send them a message telling them I am on my commute to the store. 20 minutes later, as I’m arriving, I receive a message saying they no longer need me and I should go home. I still walked into the store and asked if they still needed me, and they said no and “thank you for your dedication. At least you can enjoy your time in the area”. I was wondering if this is an infringement of my employee rights as I did not get compensation and was made to commute to my work place unnecessarily?
Ana - 21-Jul-18 @ 9:25 PM
@Lady2 - there is nothing to say your line manager cannot do this.
CCC - 12-Jul-18 @ 2:08 PM
Hello, With regards to a work related issues can a line manager ring your personal number from their own personal number when they have a work phone in the office and they are in the office on that day? I have not asked to be contacted and I don't feel like they should be ringing me from their personal number I feel rather creeped out that they now have my personal number on their personal phone?
Lady2 - 11-Jul-18 @ 2:23 PM
If you are an employee of a medical practice and your duty is to take phone calls at the reception desk. If another patient waiting in the waiting room overhears a conversation about another patient that they happen to know and gains information which then is repeated. where does the employee stand. ie: can they be fired? suspended? And surely the practice has a responsibility in ensuring that such conversation are dealt with away from the general public?
Loopy - 24-Apr-18 @ 10:11 AM
PK - Your Question:
I have been working in care for the elderly for almost a year now, with the same company. They are a small firm that are struggling, partly due to short staffing, mostly because of having no organisation, and the way they treat their staff. I have to explain a little about my rota and staff, I work 5 days a week, no full weekends off and a l w a y s help out when I can. I usually only do one waking night call in 2 weeks, the rest of my shifts are usually within normal working hours. My manager is a complete push over and pretty much lets office staff do what they want. Complaints go in one ear and out the other, and are never resolved or even taken seriously. Office staff talk about everyone behind their backs, making snide comments, even in front of other carers, they do as they please and speak and treat carers like they should have no lives outside of work. One issue that really has made me feel like I'm honestly going to go insane is that I have been covering quite a few waking night shifts, that I don't usually do, so of course I'm already slightly drained due to not being too used to covering nights a lot, and these will sometimes be for 13 and a half hours (7pm-8:30am) I will then have the next day off to rest, but the last week whilst I've been covering extra, I have been receiving call after call and texts in the morning when office staff will know I'm most likely sleeping, literally hourly or even less, and constant, to ask if I could cover shifts for the same day. I went on to inform my manager that I was not happy about this, and that I shouldn't have to explain that I need some sleep after a waking night call, and also let her know that I could have answered but see no reason that I should have to wake myself up to answer the phone and then not be able to get back to sleep again. She apologised and assured me she would let office staff know not to contact me when I am sleeping. Two days later I have the same exact issue occurring again, I go home from a waking night shift, and finally manage to drift off, to then be woken by constant calls and texts to cover the waking night shift for the same night. I eventually answered and said no to covering and thought that would be the end of it so tried to get back to sleep, but then started receiving calls A G A I N to cover the S A M E shift I had already said no to covering as it was supposed to be my days off. I then eventually (mostly out of exhaustion and getting sick of them literally begging me) said that I would cover it. Half an hour later, I get my new rota, and they wanted me to cover the waking night for 9 hours (10pm-7am) then go to another call at 9 am for 5 hours! They are absolutely c r a z y. I will be leaving and handing in my notice soon once I find something else, but I want to know what I can do to help prevent others going through this, what can I do to stop this company ruining people's lives and are they breaking laws? And what can I do personally about the

Our Response:
You would need to check the terms and conditions of your employment contract to see whether you have opted out of the 48 hour working week. Unfortunately, care homes are renowned for pushing the limits of the working week. However, if when signing your contract, you agreed to work extra hours, then unfortunately there is little you can do.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 23-Mar-18 @ 1:45 PM
I have been working in care for the elderly for almost a year now, with the same company. They are a small firm that are struggling, partly due to short staffing, mostly because ofhaving no organisation, and the way they treat their staff. I have to explain a little about my rota and staff, I work 5 days a week, no full weekends off and a l w a y s help out when I can. I usually only do one waking night call in 2 weeks, the rest of my shifts are usually within normal working hours. My manager is a complete push over and pretty much lets office staff do what they want. Complaints go in one ear and out the other, and are never resolved or even taken seriously. Office staff talk about everyone behind their backs, making snide comments, even in front of other carers, they do as they please and speak and treat carers like they should have no lives outside of work. One issue that really has made me feel like I'm honestly going to go insane is that I have been covering quite a few waking night shifts, that I don't usually do, so of course I'm already slightly drained due to not being too used to covering nights a lot, and these will sometimes be for 13 and a half hours (7pm-8:30am) I will then have the next day off to rest, but the last week whilst I've been covering extra, I have been receiving call after call and texts in the morning when office staff will know I'm most likely sleeping, literally hourly or even less, and constant, to ask if I could cover shifts for the same day. I went on to inform my manager that I was not happy about this, and that I shouldn't have to explain that I need some sleep after a waking night call, and also let her know that I could have answered but see no reason that I should have to wake myself up to answer the phone and then not be able to get back to sleep again. She apologised and assured me she would let office staff know not to contact me when I am sleeping. Two days later I have the same exact issue occurring again, I go home from a waking night shift, and finally manage to drift off, to then be woken by constant calls and texts to cover the waking night shift for the same night. I eventually answered and said no to covering and thought that would be the end of it so tried to get back to sleep, but then started receiving calls A G A I N to cover the S A M E shift I had already said no to covering as it was supposed to be my days off. I then eventually (mostly out of exhaustion and getting sick of them literally begging me) said that I would cover it. Half an hour later, I get my new rota, and they wanted me to cover the waking night for 9 hours (10pm-7am) then go to another call at 9 am for 5 hours! They are absolutely c r a z y. I will be leaving and handing in my notice soon once I find something else, but I want to know what I can do to help prevent others going through this, what can I do to stop this company ruining people's lives and are they breaking laws? And what can I do personally about the
PK - 23-Mar-18 @ 8:17 AM
I’m also part of various WhatsApp groups which is used for non urgent office gossip and urgent messages. These messages go off from 7am till 11pm everyday. I purposely do not involve myself in the chats and my bosses have bought up my non compliance to the work dynamic. I also constantly get whatsapped on my personal number outside working hours and when I choose not to respond to urgent messages I can tell my bosses do not like this, as they’ve made snide comments before. What can I do as my work place is a start up company? I feel like this is infringing on my personal space and sanity.
M - 9-Mar-18 @ 6:19 PM
@RW Much depends upon whether the information is useful or not. For instance, with regards to rota changes or useful information that saves the employer from having to check in personally. However, you do not have to look at this outside your work hours if you feel it impedes upon your personal time.
Jules. - 8-Dec-17 @ 12:11 PM
I work for a large company who have several regional WhatsApp group to which I have been added on my personal mobile phone. There are dozens of people in each group. The information in the groups is always non urgent and does not always require a response but it work related. Messages are sent seven days a week from 7am until 10pm as everyone has different working hours. I tried to leave the group during my annual leave and was added back in. I have told my manager I do not consent to being in the group, to which i was told If I were to leave group it would reflect badly on me. I feel this is a invasion of my private time, what can I do?
RW - 7-Dec-17 @ 2:38 PM
I have a manager who texts at stupid times For example 03:30 in the morning and wanting a reply he never seems to sleep my colleagues and I have voiced our concerns to our site manager and he had words but slowly he is starting again where do I stand ?
Mustang23 - 25-Nov-17 @ 8:58 AM
I work for a V.large UK Telecom company. A manager came to my family home, on my day off to hand deliver/serve notification of a disciplinary hearing for a minor issue. He insisted that I accept the letter through a closed door and would not put it in the external post box. He refused to leave when I wouldn’t accept this served letter and told him I’d pick it up at the office in two days time when I was back at work. A circular conversation then escalated and resulted in me telling him to leave with a few choice words. I raised a grievance for harassment and trespass, but they turned around and dismissed me for gross misconduct in my own home for the language used on the day. I’m waiting on the result of my appeal. What legal advise can you offer on this intrusion?
Des - 21-Nov-17 @ 9:22 AM
I have had a consultation with my OH dept and a copy of of the consultation is being sent 'private and confidential" to my line manager. Is my line manager allowed to show this report to other staff members if it is marked in this way?
Fluffy - 31-Oct-17 @ 3:42 PM
Lady - Your Question:
We have a whatsapp group page for work but we are getting messages early in the morning and late at night is this an invasion of privacy if you are not working and are at home this is all the time??! Your advice please

Our Response:
You should have a word with your employer directly. Unless it is written in your contract that you have to have one, you may just wish to turn any notifications off. Or leave the group.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 29-Sep-17 @ 3:05 PM
We have a whatsapp group page for work but we are getting messages early in the morning and late at night is this an invasion of privacy if you are not working and are at home this is all the time??! Your advice please
Lady - 29-Sep-17 @ 7:26 AM
This is all very well but in this age of mobile phones and app such as Facebook Messenger, more and more businesses are using group chat on this or even private messages to staff on days off or holiday. Is this allowed, or is this also an invasion of privacy for non urgent matters?
GB - 11-Mar-17 @ 1:45 AM
A work colleague of mine took last Friday off work as his mum had been taken into hospital the previous night. He had phoned the manager on the Thursday night to say he may not make it into work on the Friday then sent a text to the manager on the Friday morning to confirm he wouldn't be at work. The manager phoned my colleague later that morning, not because he was concerned, but to ask if he had stolen a box of co-codamol tablets from the managers drawer. Is this allowed?
AW - 16-Jan-17 @ 12:57 PM
A friend of my is off sick with work related stress. They feel burnt out and overwhelmed but are scared of losing their job and what people think of them. They asked for sick note to be kept in a confidential locked place. They think at least 3 people have had sight of it. Is this a breach of confidentiality ? and if it is what can they do about it? This is only one part of a bigger problem - harassment, being undermined, discrimination on grounds of disability. Any advice gratefully received as to what to do next or who to contact.
Summer - 29-Jul-16 @ 5:44 PM
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