Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Withholding your full name ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Withholding your full name
Category: Business and Money > Employment
Asked by: leesgritt-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 22 May 2002 08:20 PDT
Expires: 29 May 2002 08:20 PDT
Question ID: 17428
Under English Law, does an employee have the right to withhold their
surname if a customer asks?
Subject: Re: Withholding your full name
Answered By: grimace-ga on 22 May 2002 10:10 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
This is an interesting legal point which, as far as I can tell, has
never been tested in court.

The Human Rights Act (1998) is currently shaking up law throughout
many areas of life in the UK - in education, in social policy, in
civil law - and has also had a great impact on employment law. The Act
enshrines the 1950 European Convention of Human Rights in English law.
Previously, anyone with a human rights grievance in the UK would have
had to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The following two articles of the convention may have a bearing on
this case:


Article 8 - Right to respect for private and family life.
Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his
home and his correspondence.
There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise
of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is
necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national
security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for
the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or
morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.


This article has had the most impact on businesses in the UK.
Monitoring of email correspondence, telephone calls and so on clearly
comes under the power of this section of the Act. However, while there
may be a case for arguing that a full name is a private matter, I dare
say that a judge might rule that names are, per se, in the public
domain. Having said that, if an employer were to compel an employee to
reveal his name to a customer, this might well come under the terms of
the act as being an involuntary violation of the employee's right to
personal privacy.


Article 10- Freedom of expression
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall
include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information
and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of
frontiers. [...]
The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and
responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions,
restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary
in a democratic society, in the interests of national security,
territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder
or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection
of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure
of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the
authority and impartiality of the judiciary.


The key phrase in this article is that it "may be subject to
restrictions... for the protection of the reputation or rights of
others". If an employee were using a false name, or refusing to give
his name, while acting in a way which might bring the company into
disrepute, then the employer *could* dismiss the employee.

I'm not a lawyer and, as I say, this particular scenario has not been
tested in court. However, it seems to me that a case could be argued
to protect such an employee's rights, although it would be a far from
clear-cut case.

There are also little law which governs the relationship between an
*employer* and a customer. Consumer law in the UK governs the
relationship between *companies* and the public. I've assumed the
problem you're asking about is a matter between an employee and an
employer - i.e. an employer dismissing or disciplining an employee for
witholding his full name.

A customer has no right to demand the full name of a company employee,
although a company *may* have the right to require its staff to supply
it. Make sense?

Some links on human rights in the UK:

The Human Rights Act 1998: a business perspective

The Guardian: Human Rights in the UK

Employment - Human Rights Act 1998

Hope this is of some help. I'd be very interested, by the way, to hear
the circumstances surrounding this question.


Clarification of Answer by grimace-ga on 22 May 2002 10:20 PDT
Sorry, that should read:

"There are also few laws which govern &c &c"
leesgritt-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Great answer, deserves the 5 stars. Basically the situation is a
customer service telephone line. If a customer requests the name of
the person they are talking to, the first name and telephone extension
is given. Most people are happy with this but some customers request
our surnames. We would like to know if by law we can refuse to give
out our surnames. Basically we do not want customers finding out where
we live etc. and by keeping our surnames private, this woudl help keep
us anonymous. Thanks for the research.

Subject: Re: Withholding your full name
From: bobthebench-ga on 13 Jun 2002 15:52 PDT
100% clear. You don't have to give your name. ECHR incidentally only
applies to public bodies, which you probably are not. Customer
dealings are with your employer, unless you are self-employed etc, so
their details must be available in terms of the Business Names Act
1985. You must provide your full name to him for tax, etc. Under Data
Protection legislation it is probably an offence for your employer to
disclose your surname.

You cannot however use a ficticious name if there is any element of
intent to decieve, that is a criminal offence.

Hope this helps. Appreciate any feedback

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy