Privacy in the workplace
Careers advice, Laws

Privacy in the workplace: employee rights and duties

Employers have the right to monitor their employees, but what type of devices can be monitored? Here are some examples.

When it comes to privacy within your professional environment, there are a series of issues that must be taken into consideration. As an employee you are responsible of the communications, devices and connections you make use of. Employers have the right to monitor their employees, but what type of devices can be monitored?

Here are some examples:

  • recording on CCTV cameras
  • opening mail or e-mail
  • use of automated software to check email
  • checking phone logs or recording phone calls
  • checking logs of websites visited
  • videoing outside the workplace
  • getting information from credit reference agencies
  • collecting information through point of sale terminals, such as supermarket checkouts, to check the performance of individual staff

All the above activities are under a data protection law that defines specific rules about the conditions and circumstances in which monitoring can be carried out. Employees should be fully aware of the process of monitoring in terms clarity, impact assessment and specific reasons.

You have to keep in mind that your employer has the right to monitor your use of: internet, email, phone and fax during the working hours, but this right should be related only to the business and to the working equipment.

But what if you discover that your employer has been monitoring some of your activities without you knowing anything about it? “Some employers monitor their workers without informing them that this is happening, for example, by use of hidden cameras or audio devices. This is usually not legal. Guidance under data protection law says that secret monitoring should not be allowed in private areas at work, such as staff toilets, unless there is serious crime involved – for example, dealing drugs.”

All employers should have a code of conduct that regulates every type of monitoring in order to assure privacy and fairness, and the same rules apply for one of the most controversial issue, the use of social media in the workplace in terms of guidelines.

If you want to know more about the rules of being monitored at work in the UK, then click here and if you are interested in finding exciting topics and advices don’t miss our blog posts.