Right to Privacy outside Workplace and Unfair Dismissal: A UK Standpoint

Publication Information

Journal Title: Journal of Legal Studies & Research
Author(s): Pratyay Ghatak
Published On: 02/01/2024
Volume: 9
Issue: 6
First Page: 453
Last Page: 461
ISSN: 2455-2437
Publisher: The Law Brigade Publisher

DOI: doi.org/10.55662/JLSR.2023.9605

Cite this Article

Pratyay Ghatak, Right to Privacy outside Workplace and Unfair Dismissal: A UK Standpoint, Volume 9 Issue 6, Journal of Legal Studies & Research, 453-461, Published on 02/01/2024, doi.org/10.55662/JLSR.2023.9605 Available at https://jlsr.thelawbrigade.com/article/right-to-privacy-outside-workplace-and-unfair-dismissal-a-uk-standpoint/


Privacy is an elusive dream for most working professionals as employers’ vigilance extends to various intricate aspects of one’s private life. This begs the question of what is private life in the context of employment relation. The concept of controlling an employee’s private affairs can be traced back to its roots of domestic service. The relationship between a master and servant, being industrialized back in nineteenth century[i] still acts as the key element in employer’s power to control his employees. In present day, not surprisingly but unfortunately one’s private life activities such as pursuing certain hobbies, getting associated with certain groups or building relationship with your co-worker and so on may lead to dismissal from workplace[ii]. Although worldwide modern legal regimes by enacting laws to protect employees’ privacy have discarded employer control in favour of supervised regulation, intrusions of different kinds as noted above still remain at large. Intrusion is usually justified on ground of employer’s interests ranging from financial to personal (that of ideological or moral clash)[iii]. Having identified core elements, i.e., i) private acts of employees & ii) employer’s interest assessed against such acts; essential in assessing lawfulness of dismissal on ground of private acts committed by employees, this essay restricts scope of discussion to UK and EU jurisdiction. In the first part, I will deliberate upon right to private life addressing its scope and specifically critiquing the ‘spatial’ concept adopted by UK’s domestic courts in X v Y[iv] and Pay v UK[v] to determine if an act is private. Second part of this essay reassesses the UK test for unfair dismissal under section 98 of Employment Relations Act, 1999. Furthermore, for the purpose of this essay right to freedom of expression, right to freedom of assembly and association, right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion will be considered within the umbrella of right to private life and deliberated upon to the extent they relate to the issue of unfair dismissal.

[i]Matthew W Finkin, ‘Life Away From Work’ (2005-2006) 66 LA. L. Rev, 945

[ii]SD Sugarman, “‘Lifestyle” Discrimination in Employment’, (2003) 24 Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law, 101, 106-119


[iv]X v. Y[2004] EWCA Civ 662

[v]Pay v. UK[2009] IRLR 139

Keywords: Right to privacy, unfair dismissal, employer’s control, ECTHR

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