What employers need to know about monitoring in the workplace

According to research carried out by the Trade Unions Congress (TUC), 56% of workers believe that they are being monitored at work. But only 38% felt that they were able to challenge forms of monitoring that they felt uncomfortable with.

The right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence is set out in the European Convention on Human Rights, which is incorporated into UK law. In the employment relationship, it is necessary to strike a fair balance between the employee’s right to privacy and the employer’s interests.

When monitoring employees’ activity in the workplace it is important to consider the following:

  • Ensure that the employee had been notified of the possibility of the monitoring and been provided with adequate safeguards
  • Ensure that the extent of the monitoring and the degree of intrusion into the employee’s privacy is appropriate to the reason for the monitoring in the first place
  • Provide reasons to justify monitoring the communications and content
  • Consider whether it would be possible to carry out monitoring by using a less intrusive form of monitoring than accessing actual content
  • Consider the consequences of the monitoring for the employee.

Monitoring employees will always depend on the individual circumstances but as a principle it is important to provide the employee with detailed information about the processing including the purpose of the monitoring, how long the monitoring data will be kept for and who the monitoring data will be shared with.

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