Private journal problem

After a week off I’ve come back and the crap has truly hit the fan. I’ve been a keen journaling person for many, many years now! I keep all my thoughts (good or bad) in it and move on to the next day. I left my journal at work by accident, and my boss found it and read all my thought about everything…I mean everything. Job, life, the boss and his Mrs. now I’ve had a written warning over this and I’m not sure how to fix this? Seriously thinking about a new cv and moving on. Truly sick to the core!

Roll on Tuesday.

Oh dear, I’m very sorry to hear. It’s certainly a difficult situation and such an invasion of privacy is hard to deal with.

Sadly I am not a legal expert and don’t know what you can do, if anything.

If you can find a new workplace without having to seek a reference and you feel you need to, go for it but it might be difficult in the current global situation. Also if your employer finds out that you now want to leave it might make things even more difficult.

I would speak to my union or go on r/legaladviceuk to see if there is anything I can do within my current place of employment first


That’s disgusting.

Taking or at least threatening legal action i would recommend only when you’ve already left, things will probably get nasty.

But if you’ve been writing about his Mrs you’re probably going to be on the way out anyway, so jump the gun I would say .


Even if you manage to get rid of the warning, you can’t make them unlearn the info they now have.

Hopefully you’ll manage to find another job and by the sounds of it, they might be equally happy you’re leaving so won’t make it difficult for you.

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Just to clarify, neither am I however I do believe that employers have the right to search their employees possessions, be this their pockets, car, desk and so on. So I don’t believe finding the journal to be actionable.

However it might depend on what was in there. Your boss will naturally have thought “what’s this” and no doubt will have known it was a personal journal from the first page he saw. However it’s what was written on that first page he saw that may be the issue.

If he believed that you were going to act upon anything you wrote about himself or his wife (another employee) then he has to consider the safety of his staff and the business - so perhaps this is where it has come from?

I too would be absolutely disgusted and I totally agree with you. My thoughts are more thinking about it from the other side and how they may try to justify it should you take any legal action.


Again, absolutely no expertise in the area but I agree with this – searching is fine. I don’t think, however, that employers should have the right to then further investigate the contents of private possessions (unless it’s a restricted item in a high security area). So I think the issue could be there.

The most I would do whilst still employed by them is confidentially speak to HR and see what they recommend. Again, depends on size of firm


I guess you’ll be in a better position to know the options when you’ve had a sit-down with your boss?

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Honestly I would move on. He has seen what you think of him, but also his wife. Your relationship with your boss can’t really recover from that. You could find yourself under investigation for doing personal work in company time (whether you were or not), which could result in even more people in your company knowing about it.

Very tough situation to be in.

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Hmmm. No expert but I’d have thought any reasonable person would think that upon finding the contents of the journal are personal thoughts the boss has no right to continue the search.

I’d seek legal advice under Human Rights – right to a private life. This act was akin to searching through your unlocked phone I think.

And if you’re good at your job, front it out. They can’t fire you for disliking their wife, and if they make your life difficult, sue them for constructive dismissal. At least you won’t have to socialise with the losers any more.


Do companies still do that thing where anything you ‘create’ during working hours, on premise, using their equipment is their property? And arguing when it was made will be like talking to a wall?

Am i making this up i cant tell

I’m a web developer and we have that in our contracts but I think it’s just a generic thing as I’ve never heard of it being enforced. I don’t think it will apply to journals though :laughing:

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Out of interest now that the cat is out the bag. Mind telling us what you’ve been writing about his Mrs?

Was it bad, like you dislike her?

Or is it the opposite you like her too much?

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You can pick the wheat from the chaff on this thread tonight :smirk:

My take, from the suggestions here are:

  1. Seek advice from HR.
  2. Don’t get embroiled in a tussle over property rights - that’s the wrong conversation at this point.
  3. It may feel like it, but it’s not Armageddon, but it’ll feel like it until you’ve taken the next step.

Good luck


Thanks everyone for your advice. A lot of things I said were in the heat of the moment! Few swear words and other similar stuff. Having a meeting with everyone (because everyone was mentioned in journal) and try to smooth things out a bit. But it’s a small company and alliances were formed. I can’t recall why I said these things. Thoughts pop in and out all day. It’s the snooping that’s got me really.

See how the week pans out, thanks again all

Take an independent person with you, a decent solicitor/experienced friend if you can find one. Let them do talking.

Do not agree to meet in a large group - start one to one with boss.

Apologise, let them know it was just you letting off steam. Explain that this is you just writing down thoughts when you’re tired, reflecting etc.

If your boss is wise, they’ll be sensible and sweep this away. Otherwise, insist on HR being there and run with it…

Edit: They’ve not a leg to stand on reading a journal under labour law. You were never intending to share your private reflections, right?!


I think the ‘being sensible and sweeping this away’ ship has already sailed.

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Wait until one of your personal projects take off! No doubt employers that have this clause in their contracts will want a slice of your pie once it’s big and juicy enough to make the legal fight worth it!

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I can only dream. I’m still trying to think of my million dollar idea :sob:

You’re right, I guess it would be hard to prove though unless you used actual materials from work.