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Employee Surveillance

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 11 Mar 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Employee Surveillance Employer Cctv

Caught on candid camera? If your employer uses CCTV in the workplace take care what you say – Big Brother’s watching.

Am I Being Watched?

Employers are increasingly turning to surveillance to keep an eye on staff. Concerned about productivity and efficiency, big companies are using highly invasive techniques to monitor their teams. And even if you do no wrong, working in a company which uses these methods can put you at a disadvantage. Growing evidence shows that surveillance and monitoring causes relationships between an employer and employees to disintegrate: an insecure, nervous workforce is the price to pay for picking off the time-wasters.

However, many employers have good cause to monitor premises using a video recorder or similar. Petrol stations and customer care units, often targeted by fraudsters or perpetrators of abuse, are commonly filmed – to protect staff as much as spy on them.

The History of Employee Surveillance

A number of high-profile surveillance cases have been in the news. BT’s infamous ‘Project Orwell’ was designed to monitor employees in and out of work, ensuring sick days and extended leave were justified. CCTV was supplemented by a squad of private detectives who followed employees home, taking secret photographs. Naturally, BT was severely lambasted for this project.

The line between acceptable and unacceptable surveillance is far from clear. For instance, an employee of Scottish Water lost a court case after he was fired for faking his time-sheets. The company had obtained secret video footage which proved that he wasn’t working the hours he claimed. Although the recording of this footage wasn’t in line with the Human Rights Act, the court ruled that it was reasonably undertaken in the circumstances.

Then there was the council worker whose home was watched by private detectives – to make sure that her injuries were real. How did she sustain these injuries? She was attacked at work by a person who had previously made threats to the council. She won £20,000 compensation.

Hearing all the stories about CCTV being installed in locker and changing rooms, microphones in petrol stations and telephone tapping, you’d be forgiven for thinking that British employees have fewer rights than convicts. What does the Human Rights Act say about all this?

What are my Rights?

Your employer is perfectly entitled to record your actions and conversations. The only provison is that they must have good cause for doing so. Your employer must tell you that you are being videoed – secret cameras are not legal! They are not entitled to use the footage for any purpose that infringes your right to privacy. But they can use the footage to show that you are not carrying out your job properly – in other words, it could be used against you.

Concerned About Employee Surveillance?

If you believe that your employer is monitoring you without notification, take action.

  1. Ask your employer to make their surveillance policy clear. Precisely where, when and how are you being monitored? Your employer should provide a clear policy setting out the nature of any monitoring and (most importantly) exactly what is seen as a breach. If you aren’t aware of a policy, then ask – they must comply.

  2. If your employer denies monitoring you at work but you suspect foul play, you should contact your trade union. Cameras in changing rooms, toilet rooms and private offices are forbidden; cameras in a communal office or customer area are permitted, but you must be informed of their existence. If you aren’t a union member, call the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas).

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    Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
    Hello if may ask my employees can record voice with cctv cameras or not because i know is forbidden
    Victory - 11-Mar-17 @ 1:30 PM
    My job includes not just working but living on a private estate. The cctv monitoring system has recently been installed in my own personal flat. I have had no letter explaining the reasons for cctv monitoring. There are 7 committee members and a managing agent that have 24 hours access to this cctv system, is this legal ?
    Misty - 6-Mar-17 @ 10:32 PM
    Can my boss follow me home after leaving work for personal reasons after he let me go and sit out side my house and take photos as he did not believe me that o went home for personal reasons help please
    Keith - 3-Mar-17 @ 10:01 PM
    Mart - Your Question:
    I reported staff theft to area manager. The staff member was caught three times stealing on cctv. The manager checked the first image did nothing about the next two. I was told to get the member of staff in as she was coming in to deal with it. She ended up not looking at it and instead of dealing with the thief she moved me instead. I am now in a different branch worse off travelling to work and the manager is saying I didn't show her any footage. Where do I go from here

    Our Response:
    Your only option really is to try to sort the matter out informally in the first instance (asking for the reasons why you were moved etc). If you are not satisfied with the outcome, please see link here.
    YourPrivacy - 16-Feb-17 @ 12:02 PM
    I reported staff theft to area manager. The staff member was caught three times stealing on cctv. The manager checked the first image did nothing about the next two. I was told to get the member of staff in as she was coming in to deal with it.She ended up not looking at it and instead of dealing with the thief she moved me instead. I am now in a different branch worse off travelling to workand the manager is saying I didn't show her any footage. Where do I go from here
    Mart - 15-Feb-17 @ 6:50 PM
    I work in a local petrol station and I have just been told that a work colleague has recorded a conversation of me talking about my manager. Is this legal?
    Mouse - 13-Feb-17 @ 1:34 PM
    Hello my boss has got what j believe to be a camera fitted in the staff room /kitchen. When I asked if it was a camera she said no it's wasn't. And they have labelled it as co2 . But I know it's a camera ? Is this illegal ?
    Sam - 4-Feb-17 @ 12:12 AM
    My Boss has monitoring software on my laptop.I was aware of the key logging software as that was installed after a previous disciplinary a few years ago.But in a recent meeting i found out he has also been collecting a screenshot of my display every minute and transmitting it to the office.I do work from home in the evenings and am concerned he can see my personal information.He also is using my broadband without my permission while i am at home.I am now facing a disciplinary for unintentionally claiming for time that the screenshots show i have not been working.What should i do?
    Andrew - 27-Jan-17 @ 2:49 PM
    I work in a shopping centre and the manager of the place watches all the workers live from his pc or phone and then uses that to sack us,is that allowed?
    Healey - 27-Dec-16 @ 7:25 PM
    I have asked my boss why he is watching us on camera while he is not in the work place.My answer that came from him was"that is for him to know and not me.Is this a valid answer.
    Flossy - 21-Dec-16 @ 12:41 AM
    Somebody in my workplace is currently suspended as a result of suspected theft. I believe secret cameras have now been installed in the site office and above the cash register, also in the areas where the safes are located. There has been no notification or signage. Is this legal?.
    nana - 5-Dec-16 @ 6:14 PM
    I work in mobile security and part of my procedures at work include calling my control during my nightshift and stating my location supposed to be for my health and safety , I have discovered that my shift controller has been calling around locations after I've left and checking my timings , he has also been doing this on weekend day shift when there I s no need for him to do so , I am the controllers line manager , I have reported this to my employer but they've tried to brush it under the carpet
    Stefal - 4-Dec-16 @ 1:13 PM
    My boss (who isnt the owner of the store) hooked up a camera in the backroom, and it's the type of camera when it sees or hears anything, it notifies on his phone. But that's that the problem, the problem is that he can watch live feed on the camera from his phone, even when he's not working. So my question: is it legal for my boss to watch us while he's in his bed, with his hello kitty pjs???
    Ryan - 19-Nov-16 @ 4:15 AM
    Hi is it legal for my boss,to be able to listen to everything everyone says at work all the time? I work in a hotel.
    bonnie - 15-Nov-16 @ 7:20 PM
    Employers have put cameras in for health and safety,but the managering director has said its to keep an eye on people not working,we have nothing in writing as yet.Some cameras are on one to one and the rest in general distributionthroughout the factory,even though there are parts of factory more dangerous that is not covered on one to one basis
    jockas - 31-Oct-16 @ 6:35 PM
    Are employers allowed to view a live feed stream of customer support security cameras while they are at home. A company I work for put cameras for security and safety. But I have evidence they watch is live and call us to say what are you doing sitting there etc. The security cameras are ment to record instead a project manager will connect to http page to watch the staff live. Is this allowed under eu
    Michael Brewis - 9-Oct-16 @ 12:44 PM
    Alright guys , quick question here... can my boss use a control camera against me ? Even though it's only there for health and safety?? I was caught sleeping in the control room but can he use that camera as evidence?
    Josh - 3-Oct-16 @ 12:29 PM
    Gus - Your Question:
    My employer is about to discipline me, apparently I was behind a gate when a production line was powered on. I was in no danger what so ever the line was not running. They saw this on cameras that were put in place for quality reasons only not health and safety. Can they do this or is it classed has entrappment.

    Our Response:
    If you have breached one of the health and safety rules of your contract and were caught on camera then you can be disciplined, regardless of whether you were in danger or not.
    YourPrivacy - 3-Oct-16 @ 10:51 AM
    My employer is about to discipline me, apparently I was behind a gate when a production line was powered on. I was in no danger what so ever the line was not running. They saw this on cameras that were put in place for quality reasons only not health and safety. Can they do this or is it classed has entrappment.
    Gus - 2-Oct-16 @ 5:50 AM
    Cricky- Your Question:
    I have just realised that my employer must be listening to everyone's conversation at work is it legal for them to record private conversations without our knowledge.

    Our Response:
    You don't say how your employer is listening to private conversations, therefore it is difficult to answer your question.
    YourPrivacy - 29-Sep-16 @ 12:30 PM
    I have just realised that my employer must be listening to everyone's conversation at work is it legal for them to record private conversations without ourknowledge .
    Cricky - 28-Sep-16 @ 1:42 PM
    i work in a restaurant and just found out that our cleaning manager has been watching and going through the Cctv to see if people are working ...some people have been lazy, but we never got told that until another supervisor said they were going through the video footage...what is our rights
    Bratty - 31-Aug-16 @ 8:10 PM
    Hi i was off with a sick note and was seeing a speciallist dr for my illness unaware my employer and employers insurance company who helps pay my sick pay hired someone to do covert surveillance they say they have evidence thay proves im faking and suspended me, said i cant appeal decision. I havent been shown the evidence but sounds weak and i think i can explain and prove evidence wro g what do i do
    Kage - 6-Aug-16 @ 2:31 AM
    @Swifty - we're being watched by big brother all the time, whether we know it or not. Many employers have CCTVs installed. For instance if you're working in a shop it can be used to keep an eye on shoplifters but your line managers can naturally see what you are doing also.
    CharlieS - 4-Aug-16 @ 3:03 PM
    Can a manager stand and watch cctv of you whilst at work. He never even notified us he was in the building, he got a member of staff to sneak him through a fire door
    Swifty - 4-Aug-16 @ 5:53 AM
    hi, i was wondering if anyone could help me. my old work has some cctv footage of me and they have been showing the other members of staff, also they have shown a member of public the footage, is this against the law and if so what can i do ? thank you
    ashbee - 1-Aug-16 @ 2:08 AM
    The above article states "Your employer must tell you that you are being videoed – secret cameras are not legal!" I believe this blanket statement to be untrue. If the employer has reasonable grounds to believe that a crime is being commited then covert recordings are legal but they must be proportionate. This is also the case for any infringement that goes against what is in the public interest. That is my understanding at least. Happy to be corrected.
    Freddy - 12-Jul-16 @ 5:52 PM
    My company has recently installed on board video recording equipment to our vans.The camera system points at the driver’s mate and the driver recording us and also our conversation at our every move. Can you tell me what my rights are concerning privacy? I have been told by word of mouth that the system is there for our safety.We were not be told of any written policy in place or to tell us what the recordings will be used for. We feel that our private conversation are our own business and should not be heard by other people is this legal?If not, can my colleagues and I refuse to allow these voice recordings, leaving the visual recordings?Thank you kindly for any advice.
    KEN - 15-Jun-16 @ 2:56 PM
    Hi My employer over the last couple of years has installed cctv all around the factory. We have never been officially told why it's there but if you ask you get told it's just for security & health & safety. I know that it's also being used in disciplinary situations as well but like I say we've never officially been informed of this. I have found out that it's been added to the works handbook that they can use it for that but once again we were never made aware of this. Are they allowed to carry on like this?
    Stez - 15-Jun-16 @ 1:43 PM
    Hi in my work place we have camera installed and we are aware of their presence as well as all signage round the workplace to say they are there. But can our manager legally watch these camera from home and does he need to have a cctv license to watch them?
    J - 24-May-16 @ 7:03 PM
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