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LiveinHope

Work E-Mail Privacy

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Just like to ask forum wisdom for views about the minefiled around work e-mail privacy issues.

Here is the example:

A manager at work has a work e-mail account that uses their name e.g. joe.bloggs@

Joe bloggs is made redundant.

Workplace keeps the Joe.bloggs@ account active and forwards all incoming e-mail to another staff member

Joe Bloggs is unaware of the forwarding and assumes the account is inactive.

and of course no one who uses the account to e-mail Joe on a personal basis is aware that Joe is not getting the e-mails as there is no 'auto reply' and the person receiving them reads but ignores any of a personal nature.

I appreciate that it is a work e-mail account and so there should be no personal stuff - but in this day and age when e-mail addresses become mixed etc

I just wonder where privacy issues come into this - for example, a non work related family member dies and an e-mail is sent to joe.bloggs@ but Joe bloggs doesn't find out ?

This does not involve me, other than writing about it :)

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This is standard practice and written within most IT policies, though usually an auto-reply is put on to say Joe doesn't work here any more, please contact...

I monitor the account of a departed colleague, not for sneaky reasons but because sometimes a work-related email goes to him, and they're often from "do not reply to this email address" sources so an auto-reply wouldn't mean that it then got sent to me.

I have his personal email address and have forwarded personal emails to him a couple of times.

I can't see anything worng with this tbh.

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This is standard practice and written within most IT policies, though usually an auto-reply is put on to say Joe doesn't work here any more, please contact...

I monitor the account of a departed colleague, not for sneaky reasons but because sometimes a work-related email goes to him, and they're often from "do not reply to this email address" sources so an auto-reply wouldn't mean that it then got sent to me.

I have his personal email address and have forwarded personal emails to him a couple of times.

I can't see anything worng with this tbh.

I can see circumstances where an account may be kept active, for example if someone leaves voluntarily clients will still send 'work related matters' to Joe.bloggs that the company may need to reply towards. (Although as the post was redundant there may be issues in this case.).

However, I would expect some notification response to 'alert' the sender.

However, as there is no "Joe doesn't work here' reply or indication that e-mails are not going to Joe but being forwarded to another account, no sender is aware.

My question is about keeping the account open and then a former colleague not passing on an important piece of personal informantion that comes to Joe.bloggs. Of course, that may just fall under 'lack of common decency'.

I would have thought some indication that Joe Bloggs had left would be helpful, and if the workplasce could be encouraged to do that it would be good - or encouraged to close the account.

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Might be a good precaution to set up an autoreply saying you are no longer at a workplace when you leave.

Personally, I prefer not to give out work email addresses for personal matters. That cuts out most personal mail.

And, of course, the words 'privacy' and 'email' do not belong in the same sentence.

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Might be a good precaution to set up an autoreply saying you are no longer at a workplace when you leave.

Personally, I prefer not to give out work email addresses for personal matters. That cuts out most personal mail.

And, of course, the words 'privacy' and 'email' do not belong in the same sentence.

All true, but e-mail addresses get pased around and for some are very public, and so work place e-mail addresses can quickly become used for personal communication by senders -

"I need to contact so and so - I've forgotten / don't know their e-mail address - I'll just Google their name, I know what they 'do'... - & up pops their e-mail address which is their work place address as that gets the highest ranking on Google.

As there is no auto reply or bounce back the sender thinks the address is active and the e-mail got received - especially when it is read (which it is) and so it appears marked as 'opened'

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My email address at a famous teaching hospital is still in existence 11 years after I was I'll and eventually went on ill-health. :unsure:

Have you never thought to ask for it to be shut down ? Not concerned you may be missing out on work ?

Perhaps I am overly concerned - I can just forsee lots of unfortunate eventualities with the situation I described.

I should emphasise that the e-mails are being read and so senders think Joe Bloggs is receiving them.

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My email address at a famous teaching hospital is still in existence 11 years after I was I'll and eventually went on ill-health. :unsure:

I thought you were just ignoring me!

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I disagree with Frank here. In my experience it's standard practice to delete the mailbox upon termination.

I'm just going off my experience at three cos. over the last ten years. I know mine was still live at one (big) employer six months on as a girl texted me asking why I had ignored her email.

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Thinking about this and ramifications for the employer as much as the employee..

I would have thought that an employer would want to close the e-mail address as it surely exposes a vulnerability since there would be no redress against a former employee distributing it to various places.

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My email address at a famous teaching hospital is still in existence 11 years after I was I'll and eventually went on ill-health. :unsure:

What are they famous for? Is there a crematorium next door? :huh:

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Workplaces should have a clear policy on this issue.

My last one did the following (and this was explained to me in the letter from my line manager in the letter accepting my resignation, no doubt copied and pasted from standard HR text): I was told that my Outlook account would be kept open, and that I could log in to it through the web access front end, for one month after my formal leaving date. During that period it was up to me to export and save any messages, calendar and address book data I wanted to keep, and then the account would be deleted. I was advised to put an autoreply on it stating that my new address and that this one would be killed on such-and-such a date, but this wasn't done for me.

This stikes me as a sensible way of doing it.

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Workplaces should have a clear policy on this issue.

My last one did the following (and this was explained to me in the letter from my line manager in the letter accepting my resignation, no doubt copied and pasted from standard HR text): I was told that my Outlook account would be kept open, and that I could log in to it through the web access front end, for one month after my formal leaving date. During that period it was up to me to export and save any messages, calendar and address book data I wanted to keep, and then the account would be deleted. I was advised to put an autoreply on it stating that my new address and that this one would be killed on such-and-such a date, but this wasn't done for me.

This stikes me as a sensible way of doing it.

Yes very sensible.

As it stands, the redundant worker cannot access their e-mail account while everything is being forwarded to a colleague who reads everything but does not forward anything.

They are hoping to find some argument for having an autoreply put on the account so that anyone who may think they have contacted them knows they have not.

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Policies on ths will vary, in small companies they may just set an auto reply for a month or so and then delete the account.

In larger more litigious companies they will normally want to ensure that no two employees past or present ever share the same email address. If you are taking someone to court over something they did or said via email you better be able to prove your policies are tight enough ensure that no other employee could possibly have sent the email.

This is why old accounts will be kept around for years - they may be prevented from sending/receiving anything, they are just kept as a marker to reserve that email address.

When leaving a job I recommend deleting all the old emails from your account, (sent items etc) there are no scenarios in which someone else will use that data in a way thats of benefit to you.

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When leaving a job I recommend deleting all the old emails from your account, (sent items etc) there are no scenarios in which someone else will use that data in a way thats of benefit to you.

This. The first time I was the line manager of someone who left the company I was amazed to get an email from IT containing a link to his email account and network drive. Assume that anything you write on a company email/messaging app can be seen by someone else.

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This. The first time I was the line manager of someone who left the company I was amazed to get an email from IT containing a link to his email account and network drive. Assume that anything you write on a company email/messaging app can be seen by someone else.

Pretty much! Some companies have a policy of storing everything! No reasonable company will object to a few personal emails and on-line purchases. Obviously don't purchase a monster dildo, from your work computer! :blink:

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Put an auto reply on that says you have had a sex change and wish to be now known as Dorothy.

The thing is they can't - they have left. They have no control over their old account, which is being kept active and forwarded to an ex colleague, largely I suspect because the company wants clients to assume the employee with high IP rights still works there.

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The thing is they can't - they have left. They have no control over their old account, which is being kept active and forwarded to an ex colleague, largely I suspect because the company wants clients to assume the employee with high IP rights still works there.

I doubt that's the reason, if he's importnat enough for the company to want people to think he still works there he'll be well connected enough for people to know that he's not.

There's probably a standard information retention policy.

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I doubt that's the reason, if he's importnat enough for the company to want people to think he still works there he'll be well connected enough for people to know that he's not.

There's probably a standard information retention policy.

I suspect that they hope for at least a short time while they work out the mess they created. As you say, word will get out quickly and in any case, very little of a personal nature goes to the account, but it was one of those few that highlited the account was still active.

No standard policy. On the hoof.

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I've had to deal with this just recently with a client who got bought out.

As far as I'm aware, the mailbox is paid for by the entity (the company) and is the property of the company.

The semantics of the email content and whether personal or private are not relevant - the original recipient, and nobody else, elected to have personal stuff sent to their work mailbox without considering the possible consequences of that.

What would be relevant and unacceptable, is if someone in receipt of an email which was personal, read it, and disseminated the information or gained by it in some way. But then the original recipient ought not to have been using someone else's property (that mailbox, the property of the company) for private communication anyway.

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Have you never thought to ask for it to be shut down ? Not concerned you may be missing out on work ?

Perhaps I am overly concerned - I can just forsee lots of unfortunate eventualities with the situation I described.

I should emphasise that the e-mails are being read and so senders think Joe Bloggs is receiving them.

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