The idea of employee monitoring may make some feel a little uneasy and with new technology, employers can now monitor more than just emails.
But, how far is too far when it comes to employee monitoring?
Why would you monitor staff?
There are many reasons you may choose to monitor staff, such as:
- To examine productivity;
- To confirm compliance with rules and policies;
- To investigate an allegation of misconduct or other wrongful behaviour.
How can you monitor staff?
If you are going to record email content and traffic, you should consider:
- Ensuring staff are aware that this may happen.
- Confining checks to a specific address or subject.
- Encouraging staff to mark personal emails (potential privacy issues).
Many businesses are now choosing to monitor internet use, such as tracking: logs of websites visited, keystrokes, computer files, key words or phrases.
Monitoring telephone use has been around for a while and in some roles this can be essential. In sales roles, monitoring is key to managing performance and adapting sales strategies.
In other roles, it may not be essential and could be considered a step too far if there is no reasonable reason for monitoring.
It is also common to see businesses install tracking equipment in company vehicles. If you provide company vehicles, tracking must be limited to working hours (especially if you allow private use of the vehicles) and must be with the consent of those using the vehicles.
Most businesses now have CCTV in place, which is mostly used for security or crime prevention. Some employers are choosing to use CCTV for examining productivity, which could become problematic. We can guide you through any data protection and privacy issues which may arise from using CCTV.
Whilst the above can be justified, is it too far?
The legal argument
Privacy is a human right
Although privacy is a human right, it is not an absolute right and therefore some employee monitoring may breach this principle.
Implied term of trust and confidence
There is an implied term of trust and confidence between employers and employees. There is an assumption that the relationship between an employer and employee is founded on trust and confidence and therefore some employee monitoring may breach those principles.
Employers have an obligation to comply with data protection law. Employees have a right to know what information is being collected about them and why.
An employer should reveal to their staff:
- What they are hoping to achieve by monitoring.
- The types of monitoring that are or could be carried out.
- Who has access to what is being monitored.
- The safeguards in place to protect the staff who are subject to monitoring.
The information should only be available to those who have monitoring access and the information should be deleted when it is no longer needed.
Whilst employee monitoring may sometimes be necessary, there are less intrusive ways to achieve similar results. In some working environments, monitoring may create distrust and affect employee engagement.
Training, regular performance reviews and building trust could be a better alternative for your business.
How we can help
As you can see, a lot could go wrong with employee monitoring, and we can:
- advise you if your reasons for monitoring your employees are fair and legal;
- work with you to draft your Workplace Monitoring Policy which reflects your monitoring position;
- review or provide you with a Data Protection Policy, which will help you to process personal data in accordance with the law;
- show you how to implement any policy effectively into your business; and
- take the legalities out of your hands.
If you would like to speak to us about employee monitoring and get your hands on a workplace monitoring policy, click here.