Monitoring Employees at home
Recent surveys show that the number of employers using software to monitor employees whilst working at home following lockdown has increased and the trade union ‘Prospect’ is now calling on the Government to toughen up the regulations surrounding employee monitoring. This would include making monitoring employees through a webcam illegal if the employee isn’t attending a meeting or call.
Employers often wish to consider monitoring employees to improve productivity, to help maintain their reputation and even to protect from employees disclosing or stealing confidential data. As the home has become an extension of the workplace, many employers want to have the ability to ensure that employees are actually working when out of sight of their boss.
There are a number of factors to consider before implementing any type of monitoring employees policy, including:
- what is to be monitored and why;
- is the monitoring justified; and
- can the aim/purpose of the monitoring be achieved by another means?
If an employer decides that monitoring is still necessary, they should undertake a data privacy impact assessment. This, essentially, is a balancing act to ensure that employees enjoy privacy at work whilst still protecting the business’s interests.
If a data privacy impact assessment is undertaken properly then employers do not generally need their employees’ express consent, although it is advised. Express consent will be needed if the employer is collecting sensitive data about the employee.
It is also highly recommended that employers implement an electronic communications policy to clearly set out the standards they expect from employees. This should include a full statement setting out why monitoring is to be undertaken and for what purposes, together with how the employer intends to monitor employees and to what extent. The employer should also clearly state who will have access to any of the data collected from the monitoring undertaken and how it will be processed.
Employers should always seek legal advice before implementing any type of monitoring to ensure they have the right policies in place to lower the risk of any claims.