Electronic monitoring at the workplace has been in practice for long. Almost 70 percent of employers monitor the internet connections of their workforce and watch out their online activities. From web surfing to emails content and keyboard strokes, any online activity at the workplace is not beyond the employer’s scrutiny. So, the employees, who think no one will notice them streaming on Youtube or sending personal emails using company owned devices, may have to face serious consequences.
Employee productivity is the main concern for the entrepreneurs that lead them to the monitoring at the workplace. If workers would kill the working hours doing unwanted activities and abusing the internet, it would negatively impact their efficiency and company profits. The data security breach is another concern which makes electronic monitoring at the workplace crucial.
Once the employees give consent to be monitored, the employer can conduct surveillance on them. However, the workers are authorized to have some privacy on work, and the employer can only track the activities relating to employee performance. Given are the electronic monitoring principles that the business owners should keep in mind while monitoring their workforce.
Monitor Business Owned Devices
The law permits the employers to monitor the activities performed by their staff using the company owned computers, laptops, mobile phones and other internet connected devices. If the employee is using the company computer to operate personal social media account or sending personal emails, the employer has the authority to track that emails and social media activities. It is recommended to have a computer use policy to inform the workers that there is no privacy when it comes to the use of computer and other company owned devices.
Spying on Email Accounts
The employer can monitor the activities of an official email account and the personal email accounts of the employees are exempt. However, the personal email accounts may also be scrutinized if they were accessed through a company owned device. However, employers are not allowed to track email hosted by a third party. If your employees are constantly accessing their personal email accounts on company devices, there are certainly some loopholes concerning workplace discipline.
Tracking Personal Phone Calls
There is not any law that allows employers to invade in employee privacy. Therefore, the personal phone calls and messages of the employees are exempted from monitoring. The employer should immediately stop monitoring the call or messages on realizing that it is of personal nature no matter the call was made from a company phone or private. However, if the workers are misusing the company phone or consistently using it for personal purposes, the employer has the right to take action.
Audio and Video Surveillance
The use of surveillance cameras in the workplace is permitted by the law. Monitoring the work stations and the areas where valuable company assets and information are kept is considered legal. However, the employees can expect privacy in washrooms, rest rooms, changing rooms, or locker rooms etc. When it comes to both audio and video surveillance, the employer should inform the employees not to expect privacy. For instance, a note stating “Cameras are watching” can be posted somewhere visible in the area where surveillance gadgets are recording audios and visuals. Also, it should be mentioned in the company policy or employment contract that audio and video surveillance is conducted. However, the suggested practice is to limit monitoring to videos only.
The Bottom Line
Employee monitoring is crucial to maintain productivity, eradicate pointless processes, avoid theft of company assets, and minimize data breaches by the employees. However, the employer should be vigilant of the potential legal hindrances associated with employee monitoring because they can be sued for invading the privacy of workforce. Also, the businesses should put down all the electronic monitoring policies in black and white to make it comprehensible for all the employees and company management as well.