07 Nov 2019

Do your employees use WhatsApp?


Do your employees use WhatsApp for business communication? If so, you should consider having a policy in place setting out your position on the use of such apps.

What’s your position on the use of apps?

Given the increasingly blurred line between work and social lives, the content of WhatsApp conversations between employees can be a source of legal and reputational risk to employers.  It is vital that employers confirm their position on third-party apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger and communicate this to their employees.

What about data subject access requests?

Some people assume that because WhatsApp is an external app which is end-to-end encrypted, messages are not capable of being disclosed as part of a response to a data subject access request.  Whilst this is an emerging area of data protection law, arguably if employers endorse the use of WhatsApp as a means of business communication, the content may well be disclosable as part of a subject access request.

What should employers be doing?

To help protect employers, their social media policy and other relevant policies should clearly set out their position with respect to such apps.  If an employer does not endorse the use of WhatsApp for business purposes, they should make this unequivocally clear in their policies.

If you would like to discuss your business’s current approach to WhatsApp and would like to update your social media policies, please get in touch with your usual Stephenson Harwood contact.

This update is part of a wider article, first published in Employment Law Journal, about how employers can protect their business by implementing a robust and effective social media and internet policy.



Leanne Raven

Leanne Raven
Senior knowledge lawyer

T:  +44 20 7809 2560 M:  +44 7827 353 108 Email Leanne | Vcard Office:  London