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Spying on Employees – Is it legal?

Adrian Mudd   July 16, 2013

Spying on employees sounds like it should be an illegal action, but we live in a world of surveillance and so it is possible that an employer will “monitor” the happenings on their premises. Some employers just want to protect their products and will have some measures to do that like a video system.

The part of the monitoring through spy cameras or spying that becomes tricky is how the employer makes their workers aware of the measures that are in place so that they don’t feel it is too much of an invasion of privacy.

Know Your Employer Rights When It Comes To Surveillance

Upon employment or institution of a new spying or monitoring measure, the employer needs to let the employees know what will take place. Also, there needs to be fair use of the systems, so that one person or a group of people will not be targeted specifically. If an employer monitors and/or records phone and fax conversation for quality control, they must also provide a non-recorded line for workers to use for emergencies. The employer must be clear about what privacy the employee can expect and what they may not expect while working so that there is no mystery when the measures are enforced. These policies should be provided to the employee in writing. The employer must also disclose what the information will be used for once it is collected. The storage and processing of the information that is collected must meet the Data Protection Act criteria.

The Rules of the Internet

Many employers have an email and Internet policy, as well. Employees need to understand to what extent they are permitted to use it for personal use. This policy should also be given to the workers in writing. Some employers even ask for a signature so that they know that the employees accept and understand their policy. Social media is also an area where employers feel as though they need to regulate, but usually, this is done through the limiting of personal mobile phone usage while at work.

Is it legal? That question has been considered more and more because as technology becomes more affordable and the measures more discreet, monitoring or spying is possible in different ways. Workers have more ways to be engaged with technology and can become less productive. Employers have more surveillance methods to use and ways to monitor employee behaviour on the job, but just because the technology is available, does that mean that it should be used?

View the UK Spy Laws and contact us if you have any questions relating to employee surveillance and monitoring. If you think you are being treated unfairly in terms of employee monitoring, check out the problem further with our counter surveillance products. Our team are here to help.