What is monitoring?
The commissioner's definition of monitoring (occasional and systematic) includes gathering information to check employees' productivity, recording workers' activities by means of CCTV or video, examining history of websites visited, logging emails and recording telephone calls.
Your right to privacy
The code advises employers that workers should be able to keep their personal lives private and are entitled to a degree of privacy at work. It is intrusive to monitor workers, so if employers wish to do so they must be clear about its purpose and certain that it is justifiable. All employees must be told about their company's monitoring policy, including the reasons for it and what it would entail.
The code advises employers that workers should be able to keep their personal lives private and are entitled to a degree of privacy at work
When can you be monitored?
The code stresses the need for employers to carry out an "impact assessment" if they intend to carry out monitoring. First, employers should consider alternatives. If monitoring is carried out when the aims could have been achieved in a less intrusive manner, this could be a breach of data protection legislation, and in some cases the Human Rights Act. If there is no alternative, they must ensure that the right kind of monitoring is used: there must be an appropriate balance of the degree of intrusion and the employer's aims.
The assessment should clearly identify the purpose behind the monitoring, the benefits it is likely to deliver, and any likely impact. The employer should then decide how the information gathered is to be kept secure
No consent required
The final decision is whether or not the worker in question should be notified. Covert monitoring is allowed only in exceptional circumstances, but employer who can justify it on the basis of an impact assessment is not legally obliged to get the consent of individual workers. This is crucial, as consent can be difficult to obtain and take up valuable resources.