Monitoring in the workplace must have a clear policy to back it up

Employers must be clear with their staff about their email and internet monitoring policies, after a new report from the TUC revealed more than half of UK workers believe that they are monitored at work.

The national survey of more than 1,200 UK workers found 56% of people felt that monitoring was going on in the workplace, including CCTV, browsing history and phone logs. There are many legitimate reasons why employee data may be used for monitoring purposes, such as in high risk, lone-working roles.  It is important that employers are transparent about their use of data to monitor their workforces.

Any employer which has computers or online systems and allows employees to use them should have a policy reserving the right to monitor use of these systems. But employers must have reason to conduct the monitoring and cannot simply read personal emails on a casual basis without good reason. Failing to warn staff that monitoring is taking place could have legal consequences.

Covert monitoring can only be justified in exceptional circumstances. Employers should explain the reason for monitoring and how they intend to use any collected data.

While recent changes to data protection law via the General Data Protection Regulation have further safeguarded the limits to monitoring of staff, the TUC called for new protections to ensure employers only use surveillance for legitimate reasons, and the introduction of tougher enforcement measures to ensure workers are informed of monitoring technologies.

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