Employee surveillance has been more prevalent than ever during the pandemic, including supervision of emails and files, the use of webcams on work computers, as well as CCTV and tracking tools.
As a result, implications in the workplace have inevitably surfaced. It is vital for employers to be cautious as this monitoring continues.
According to a recent survey by BritainThinks for the TUC, out of 2,209 workers in England and Wales, 60 per cent said they had been under surveillance or monitored at work in 2021, compared to 53 per cent the year before.
Particularly, several employees reported monitoring of staff devices (24 per cent in 2021 compared to 20 per cent in 2020) and monitoring of phone calls (14 per cent compared to 11 per cent) than in the year before.
Here, Mander Hadley’s Senior Associate, Amanda Hyam, who specialises in employment law matters, explains the key issues that employers need to consider:
What are the issues?
Firstly, employee monitoring could result in a damage of trust between employers and their staff, as well as potential legal repercussions.
Secondly, there may well be issues with the technology itself, resulting in discrimination and unfair treatment.
A recent wide-spread example is the Post Office scandal involving employees being falsely accused of stealing money due to a fault with their accounting software.
How should employers proceed?
If employee surveillance is something that an employer does choose to pursue, they should be vigilant throughout the process.
Most importantly, employees should be informed before any monitoring takes place.
According to a poll by the TUC, more than 82 per cent of workers said they supported a legal requirement to consult staff before introducing monitoring.
Additionally, 77 per cent also supported a ban on monitoring outside working hours, with a further 72 per cent highlighting that the use of technology to make decisions about workers could increase unfair treatment.
If your business requires help and advice on employment law matters, please get in touch with us now.
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