So as an employer, how do you know what’s okay and what’s not? The balance can be tricky to navigate, and lines can often become blurry depending on the case, but there is some general consensus on what boundaries must be maintained and it’s important as an employer to know what they are.
What are the different forms of workplace surveillance that can be utilised?
As an employer, surveillance is an important means through which you can work to protect the assets of the company, prevent loss, improve productivity, and even protect employees. How you choose to incorporate surveillance varies on what your purpose is and there are several different routes you can take as long as they stay within what’s considered legal and ethical workplace monitoring. Some of the possible methods that are available include:
- CCTV cameras installed in various areas of the workplace
- Internet, email and social media usage at work (this includes the websites, downloads made, or data input)
- Keylogging software which records the characters typed on work devices
- Audio recording of calls made and received
- Data trackers used to monitor productivity
- Geolocation tracking (through devices like workplace provided phones)
This doesn’t necessarily mean that all these forms of surveillance are or should always be used, and if they are, the contexts in which they are legal can vary depending on the particular case, the place and type of work as well as the extent of the surveillance.
What type of workplace surveillance is okay and what’s not?
The regulations on surveillance can be a little murky to navigate, especially since most laws are written in general terms and the ever advancement of technology can create uncertainty on what certain kinds of monitoring are classified as.
Generally speaking, optical surveillance in spaces considered private such as bathrooms, change rooms and lactation rooms is an offence. In some states like Victoria this also extends to listening devices. Outside of private spaces at work, employers are typically required to inform their employees before introducing any surveillance technology. This falls under overt surveillance and the time length can vary but normally at least 14 days’ notice is necessary, and any cameras must be visible and/or have signs that inform employees they may be recorded.
Where does the Line on Workplace Surveillance vs Spying become Blurry?
Furthermore, there exists a clear lack of uniformity in surveillance laws which means there can be discrepancies on what’s considered okay in one place versus another depending on which state you live in. These are generally only minor but can be a source of stress to employees, particularly those whose work requires them to operate in multiple different states.
Workplace Surveillance in the Era of Remote Work
Issues like these have introduced a greater need for reforms and uniformity in surveillance legislation – in fact, the Australian Law Reform Commission stressed the need for uniformisation in their 2014 report citing that it would enable greater certainty to employees and employers alike on what their rights are.
Book a Demo Now
Learn more about how Polonious can help you manage your workplace surveillance.
As employers, it’s important to have a clear internal policy that aims to respect the privacy rights of all workers and ensure that any surveillance implemented has a clear purpose and guidelines that restrict its usage on a situational basis. In order to prevent surveillance from becoming invasive on a worker’s right to privacy, it’s also important that law regulators adapt legislation to reflect the new working reality for many people.