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Employee Surveillance

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 10 Aug 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..
    Rford6 - Your Question:
    Hi,My employer (who is not the owner) has recently connected the work cameras to her phone and she watches us constantly.She has started to text us when she is not in about what we are doing which I feel is not right. I have no problem with the camera in the front shop at all as I know it is for our best interest but watching us from home, I am not at all comfortable with.Please can you give me some information as to my rights on this ???

    Our Response:
    If workers are unhappy about being monitored, they can check their staff handbook or contract to see if the employer is allowed to do this. You can also see the gov.uk link here which will give you more information on yoru employer's rights. As specified in the article, if your contract says your employer can do this, 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. If you still feel your employer is acting outside your employment guidelines and there is nothing in your contract that allows your line manager to survey you from their home, then give ACAS or the ICO here a call to find out your rights.
    YourPrivacy - 11-Aug-17 @ 10:15 AM
    Hi, My employer (who is not the owner) has recently connected the work cameras to her phone and she watches us constantly ... She has started to text us when she is not in about what we are doing which i feel is not right . I have no problem with the camera in the front shop at all as i know it is for our best interest but watching us from home, i am not at all comfortable with . Please can you give me some information as to my rights on this ???
    Rford6 - 10-Aug-17 @ 3:04 PM
    @Sophie - speak to your union rep if you have one.
    Han - 19-Jun-17 @ 3:11 PM
    My employer has installed audio listening and recording in the office. Now they want us to sign its ok. We do not want it of course. Our chatting will be listened to. We dont handle valuables or work in crime related occupations. He never formally consulted or got agreement. Its invasive and inhibits us. We feel threatened.
    Sophie - 18-Jun-17 @ 6:40 PM
    A colleague is being investigated for theft as the employer believes the items he'sbeen accused of stealing locker has been "opened".The CCTV camera can seea bit of thechanging rooms where he's allegedly stolen something, although the items was not foundon him or his belongings when searched. The company's policy clearly states that CCTV can't be used in private areas. If that is the case can they still use the images against the individual as he's adamant that he never stole and that the locker that the items are missing from has always been a bit opened?
    Shots - 12-Jun-17 @ 6:00 AM
    Hi, I dont get on with my manager and dont trust him whilst having a one to one meeting.He denies things that he has said and I can't prove it. Am I legally allowed to take in and record our meetings without him knowing?It would only be saved for my information and to evidence anything that he may deny in the future.
    Tina - 28-May-17 @ 3:59 PM
    Hi I just wanted to know where I stand regrading cctv in my work truck?? We have 6 cameras I'm fine with them all to be honest as it's good security. But they have one facing me (the driver) it's a bit uncomfortable knowing they are watching me all day. When I asked what's the purpose of the cameras and I'm not comfortable being watched all day.. I was told they are only used for insurance purposes only so if I had a accident ect then they would be checked. With this I was fine , but all of a sudden they are using them to check any old thing telling me what we do during the day.. I mean he even asked me and the drivers mate was are dinner nice from the chippy. It's getting a bit weird. I come to work just get my work done as quickly and safely as possible and get home don't want to feel like I'm being watched 24/7. Any advice would be nice
    Jayb118 - 16-May-17 @ 11:51 PM
    A colleague I fell out with is keeping an observation log on me, from when she sees me.., including in my private life. My employers have recorded these movements on personnel records and discussed using it in further management discussions. It is also recorded that this information will be sent to the police. My activities are normal - waiting for a bus and so on. I didn't know this was happening and I feel violated and it is making me and my partner ill. There is no police action against me. My employer has denied it but an anonymous person has sent me evidence. What options do I have?
    DannyB - 12-May-17 @ 6:37 AM
    I was sacked for forcibly opening a doorbecause otherwise I would been late and this was showen to me by use of a camera can they do this? as they pointed out it was grossmisconduct. someone else at work did a very similar thing and was given a warning for it . but I was fired hardly seems fair to me.
    jimboset - 16-Apr-17 @ 11:23 PM
    If you have cctv at work can any member of staff come in to work and look thro the fotage That has been recorded to spy on a nother member of staff, with out permision from the owner
    jeannie - 10-Apr-17 @ 8:12 PM
    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
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