I am going to leave my company in September, my team colleague and my manager want to ask IT to keep all my emails record under share path after my leaving, then they can drop in to search history email chains. I feel very naked as my inbox also contains some personal information such as “ superannuation, life insurance,health records... so just wandering, can they allow to do that?...it looks like breaking the privacy policy. And also none of previous employees in the team were required to keep their emails somewhere, I feel it’s very unfair.

  • Please specify a country, laws will probably vary quite dramatically. Also read your contract/employee handbook – mattumotu Aug 19 '19 at 10:57
  • Are you able to simply go through and delete all personal emails (after contacting sending parties and updating to a different email address)? – Gregory Currie Aug 19 '19 at 15:51

Your employer owns your work email account, you are merely allowed to use to it. If there are personal emails contained there, you should delete them. However, based on your company's backup policies that doesn't mean that they are actual no longer there.

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    This answer is not true. At least not everywhere. Owning the mail account is not the same as the permission to share your emails with third-party. – Chris Aug 19 '19 at 4:57
  • This answer id not correct, it's even dangerous legal advice in some countries. Neither does it address the scope since "colleague and manager" may not be the ones who make the company rules. – Sascha Aug 19 '19 at 11:59
  • Note that this depends on the region. In Belgium, all communication is privileged, and that includes emails/internet usage at work using a work account/machine. Employers are only allowed to track things like bandwidth usage, not the content. Any access to privileged content can only be granted by a judge, and requires either proof of misconduct or a strong circumstantial case. – Flater Aug 19 '19 at 13:01
  • @Abigail it's not as black and white as you're making it out to be - no one is arguing that everyone in the company should have access to an ex-employee's inbox. – dwizum Aug 19 '19 at 14:54
  • @Abigail Yes, basically. My point is, the question is about one colleague and a manager looking at emails - you made a comment to dispute the claim that every one else in the company would have the right to see emails. That's a straw man argument - no one is asking about, or claiming, that everyone in the company should be able to look at the OP's emails. – dwizum Aug 19 '19 at 16:00
  1. Your company email belongs to the company, not you.

  2. You should have no expectation of privacy regarding your work email account, voice messages, instant messaging, chat, etc. It may or not be legal for your employer to audit, review, listen to, or read your work communications, but you should assume that they will. If you don't want your employer to know your personal business then don't conduct personal business with work provided resources.

  3. Never mix your work and personal lives, communication, etc.

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    @Abigail I think the OP was talking about personal information relevant to their time at the company "superannuation" is their pension - I suspect this is Australia – Neuromancer Aug 18 '19 at 23:53
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    @ Yes Point 2 is not universal. – mishsx Aug 19 '19 at 5:01
  • Most places your benefits are tied to your work email address, so no most people can't simply just not mix their professional and personal emails – DetectivePikachu Aug 20 '19 at 20:08

Even in the USA, HIPAA protects health records from employers. A lot of folks here say don't mix personal with work, but in many cases I've seen, certain health benefits can only accept your work email for verification (ex you enroll in a health savings account and you get bonuses for completing health survey). Also payroll and HR information are usually to your work email, not personal. This is sensitive information not something anyone in the office can view which might contain your PII (SSN or whatever to your country), and pay info, etc stuff you don't share.

With that said, employers must protect these types of records. They cannot share it with everyone else as a record. Also, it would be crazy for you to inspect each email, and delete it before exporting it to a shared drive.

My advice: bring up the topic to your boss. Explain you have many personal health emails in it and check with your local laws to bring it to your boss's attention. Ex, "Under law X, an employer must protect my health files." etc so it's not just you saying it but something they must do. Ultimately, your boss may just want certain emails searchable so maybe you can just export those to the shared drive. I also recommend you remove association of any personal items like bank or social media from your work email before leaving. This means going into each site, and changing the email settings from your work to personal.

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Legally: depends on where your employer is located.

From a technical standpoint: Yes. In fact, there's probably long term archives of all of your mail being created on a regular basis. These archives are just harder to get to than your boss wants it to be when getting the mail he might need.

I'd agree to help them because it's not an unreasonable request as far as company related messages go. Just go into your mailbox and start deleting any private messages you don't want your boss/co-workers reading. Even if your company keeps long term archives of mail somewhere, your boss & co-workers won't see them because they're only interested in easy to access mails placed in the shared location by you.

You can also ask your IT department what the policy is on any automatic archiving of email. At least where I've worked companies are usually very upfront about this on day 1 so it's not a surprise. Also, I live in the U.S. and there's always the potential of old company emails being accessed as part of a lawsuit.

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