Is your employer spying on you?

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Recent articles in the news have brought to light instances where some employers are spying on their employees without consent.

They are monitoring their employees every move; they know where you are and what you are doing at any given moment inside and (in some cases) outside of work. They are even privy to intimate details about your private life.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled on cases where employers have been monitoring, collecting and storing personal information relating to telephone calls, email and internet usage as well as video surveillance, without the employee’s consent and with no policy in place for informing employees that their communications may be monitored.

When no warning is given that such communications are to be monitored, there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. Employers should also ensure that the monitoring is being undertaken for good reason and that employees are made aware that it is taking place. Employers should also ensure that the monitoring policy is documented and that the policy document is readily available to all employees.

Union members can often negotiate privacy rights through collective bargaining and rights concerning video surveillance are often regulated, whereas non-union private sector employees are more vulnerable.

Useful sources of information include:

- Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA)
- The Employment Practices Data Protection Code
- Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) 2000
- Information Commissioner's Office www.ico.gov.uk

This article is intended for information purposes only and its content should not be applied to any particular set of facts or relied upon without legal or other professional advice.


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