These days, it would be unheard of if an employee joined a company and their email and use of the internet was not being monitored. Employers monitor employees to prevent liability arising from misuse of the internet or email. However, technology is advancing and so is the monitoring of employees…
Some companies now use sensor tracking to see how long staff work at their desks and wearable devices such as fitness trackers provide employers with a whole load of highly personal data about their employees. Often these monitoring devices are being handed out without formal guidelines governing their use and no thought has been given to legal rights that could be infringed as a result.
What Employers need to be aware of
Electronic forms of workplace surveillance involve the processing of personal data and are regulated by the Data Protection Act 1998. Depending on what is being monitored, consideration also needs to be given to other legislation such as if an employee’s telephone calls are being monitored then ‘The Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000’ may also need to be considered.
The duty of trust and confidence also needs to be considered and can be breached as a result of an employer monitoring activities. If an employee believes they are being unfairly targeted by their employer’s monitoring activities, they can also claim they have been unlawfully discriminated against as a result of their sex, race, age, disability, religion or sexual orientation.
What should employers do?
Employers need to produce guidelines about the collection and use of personal data and they must think carefully about what they hope to gain from the data they analyse. It is important that employees are provided with information about what monitoring takes place, who will have access to the results of monitoring and are set clear standards of conduct and performance.
Also don’t forget the EU General Data Protection Regulation (comes into force May 2018)