There are many reasons why monitoring employees is a good business practice. However, employees do have a degree of privacy and it is important for the employer to get the balance right.
There are numerous ways that employees can be monitored, watched and reviewed daily, through call monitoring and recording, reviewing emails sent and received, monitoring internet use and looking at the websites visited and time spent on these websites, tracking GPS on company cars and mobile phones, watching cctv footage and given the recent increase in the number of employees working from home, employers may be tempted to turn to accessing web cams on company computers and installing screen recording software.
While monitoring can have potential benefits such as ensuring that employees are following the rules and being productive, they will be less likely to waste company time as they know they are being monitored. The use of cctv can reduce theft and ensure that safe working practices are being followed. Being Complaint with Data Protection Legislation which states employees spend more time than expected allowing the employer to review the process and improve upon them and ensure that work can be distributed fairly among the team.
However, monitoring employees at work can also have its drawbacks as it can be seen as the employer having a lack of trust in the employee or the employee may feel that their privacy has been violated.
As monitoring employees can gather a lot of personal data, employers must ensure that they are consistently being compliant with the GDPR and the Data Protection Act 1998, which state that monitoring and surveillance must be necessary, justified and proportionate. Before undertaking any form of monitoring, the employer should undertake an impact assessment and keep a written record of this for future reference.
There are limited circumstances when an employer can monitor employees without letting them know and this would apply if you suspect the employee is committing a crime or if it is reasonable to believe that by letting the employee know would make it harder to detect the crime; and you must only covertly monitor for a specific investigation and stop monitoring as soon as the investigation is concluded.
When carrying out monitoring in the workplace it is important to be transparent with employees on how they are being monitored, through having clear policies and procedures in place. Explain to the employee why they are being monitored and how their data will be protected from misuse.