Financial & Legal News

How are you monitored at work?

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Social media can affect the workplace and productivity if it is overused by employees and many employers are concerned about this, but also there are implications for staff who feel ‘spied’ on by their bosses.

We have worked with many clients and helped them implement a new social media policy to make sure they are legally covered and when implemented correctly good employment policies protect not only the employer, but also the employee.

However recently a much ‘bigger brother’ tracking of employees has hit the headlines

Banking group Barclays has been criticised for ‘surveillance’ of its staff and monitoring how employees spent time at their desks.

The Daily Telegraph was also criticised by the NUJ for desk sensors and Amazon have been accused of implementing scanners to check the speed of its operators.

Companies have been accused of going to extremes over such scrutiny; chair sensors, heat and motion devices, software checking when employees go offline, analysing emails and staff movement around the office, have all been seen as ‘Big Brother’ tactics – but where do employers stand legally?

The personal data of individuals is protected under the General Data Protection Regulations and the Employment Practices Data Protection Code, issued by the Information Commissioner’s office also regulates how monitoring of employees ought to be approached.  It is always advisable if there is a monitoring system in place in the workplace, to inform all staff and to have considered the justification of that monitoring and whether the intrusion into the employee’s private life is proportionate.

Susan Mayall, Head of Employment Law at Pearson, said:  “A reasonable employer would I am sure make sure there is transparency in the workplace and let staff know how information is gathered and what is then done with it.  Staff are protected not only by the above legislation, but also by the Employment Rights Act 1996 and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and there are obvious legal guidelines employers have to adhere to when monitoring staff, which involve a consideration of whether the ends justify the means.

“Recent European case law has set out the factors that are likely to be relevant when considering, for example, when an employer can put video surveillance in place without being in breach of an employee’s right to privacy under Article 8 of the ECHR”

“Monitoring of staff on the basis of productivity can form part of future disciplinary action and so there needs to be openness and a declaration of this activity in their employment contracts,” she added.

For advice on any areas of employment law, contact Susan Mayall on 0161 785 3500

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

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