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Is it legal for a employer to spy on employees?
February 4, 2006 10:40 AM   Subscribe

UKWorkFilter: My employer is starting to place a lot a surveillance cameras around the building, with the possibility of spying on employees... Is this legal?

Recently my employer has been cracking down on the company rules. We've had meetings and emails outlining exactly what the rules are and what is expected of us. Added to this the rumored appearance of small surveillance cameras in the store and disappearance of many of them a few days later.

I'm starting to feel uncomftable as when this sort of action happend in my last employement there was a mass culling of employees on disiplinary grounds in a attempt of side-stepping redunancy packages. While i'm not in breach of any company rules i feel my privacy is being breeched. My mind, body and soul belong to the company while i'm in the building...

My question is: is there any requirement for the employer to notify us that we're under surveillance, or would it be covered by a standard contract of employment? Also what right would they have to use it in any disiplinary proceedings?
posted by Nik_Doof to Work & Money (5 answers total)
 
The basic gist seems to be that it's legal as long as: (a) the fact that you're being monitored is not kept secret; and (b) there is a genune business reason for the monitoring.

From the Citizen's Advice Bureau:
Basic Rights at Work
Monitoring at Work

"[Monitoring is] allowed as long as your employer has taken reasonable steps to let you know that the monitoring is happening, what is being monitored and why it is necessary. If your activities at work are being monitored it should be enough to meet the need identified by the employer and no more than is necessary for that purpose."

From Business Link:
Monitoring and Security of Staff

"If monitoring of employees is to be carried out then such monitoring must be done in a way that is consistent with the Data Protection Act 1998. You must make them aware of the nature, extent and reason for any monitoring unless (exceptionally) covert monitoring is justified."
posted by chrismear at 12:04 PM on February 4, 2006


Are you in a union? If so, contact someone at the union HQ.

There's some information here on what is, or isn't, permitted.

reverendX : Yes, there is a massive amount of surveillance by CCTV in the UK, but it's mostly in public places, i.e. stations, town centres, malls, etc, or to monitor visitors to private companies (such as banks or offices).
posted by essexjan at 12:08 PM on February 4, 2006


You could always put a couple of wireless cameras in the executive offices and feed the signal to a web site or a TV in the break room...
posted by Ken McE at 7:42 PM on February 4, 2006


You could always put a couple of wireless cameras in the executive offices and feed the signal to a web site or a TV in the break room...

Of course if *you* do it, it's grounds for termination...
posted by Ken McE at 7:42 PM on February 4, 2006


Such grounds for termination. And understandably.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 8:44 PM on February 4, 2006


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