Bosses who telephone their employees at home to talk about work matters could face legal action under human rights legislation.
Managers who phone workers at home risk being sued unless it is specifically laid out in their contract, the Institute of Management warned.
In an advice leaflet to its 89,000 members, the Institute of Management said that calls made to an employee at home could be construed as an invasion of privacy.
The leaflet said: “An employer does not have the right to demand an employee’s telephone number, unless it is written in the contract that the employee has a duty to be available outside regular working hours.
“Even when an employee has indicated a willingness to be called at home, managers should respect their privacy and not make unnecessary calls.”
Also, guidelines say that employees are under no obligation to provide their addresses except for pay slips and other routine correspondence.
The leaflet even warns that unauthorized monitoring of e-mails or telephone calls could also be an invasion of privacy even if the individual is thought to be using them for personal matters.
Mary Chapman, director general of the Institute of Management, said the strength of the Act would only become clear once cases were brought.
IM members are made up of chairman, company directors, chief executives and managers.
The advice leaflet appears in the latest issue of IM’s magazine, Professional Manager.
A spokeswoman for the TUC said it welcomed the warning from IM. But she added: “We also think that it is very important that employers respect employees’ rights to privacy in the workplace, as well as at home.”
Dr David Lewis said main executives would benefit by learning to postpone and delay rather than taking on too much work.
In his report, Working Smarter – Not Harder, he says the word “NO” is the best time-saving device of all.
“We are taught to regard procrastination as the thief of time,” he said. While it is, of course, highly important to meet deadlines, some tasks will actually be completed more rapidly and efficiently if they are delayed. Trying to work when over-tired or emotionally frantic usually leads to mistakes being made, or wrong decisions being taken.
The word ‘no’ is probably the best time-saving device of them all and executives should learn to assert themselves by refusing to take on unreasonable additional tasks.
Dr Lewis, who is a psychology author, lists 10 points in his report, which will lead to more efficient work.
Tackling tough jobs first, prioritizing, learning to say “no”, planning, delegation and avoiding interruptions are among the key points, he says.
A CBI spokesman said: “Employees’ privacy should be respected. But sometimes the needs of the company must take precedence although the CBI doesn’t encourage the excessive contact out of hours of employees.”