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Employee Surveillance

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 24 Mar 2019 | 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..
    My employer and another staff member jave been showing cctv footage of me to customers in the shop where I work. The other staff member has also done this previously with other staff who have made mistakes on the till etc and telling customers why staff have lost thier jobs
    Irene - 24-Mar-19 @ 8:12 PM
    My employee put hidden microphone in kitchen. They know what we are talking. Can't talk anything private things. If we do she asked us. We didn't know first why she knows. We can't say anything. Can they do spy our private. We can say how bad my owner's are.
    Work hard - 23-Mar-19 @ 1:40 AM
    I think we are entering the age of Orwell's '1984'. How did we manage before all the tech? All this just to squeeze the very last drop of juice from the employee's. I'm sure what the companies where losing due to odd naps etc was minimal. I would even bet that the amount all the tech costs, costs more than what they would have lost. This, for a smaller businesses is more about power over the employee's. For Corporations, it's more about making a few extra pennies for the damn shareholders. Either way this SHOULD be illegal unless to protect life (e.g. prisons) Bosses can be unethical too, just as dirty and untrustworthy as employee's can be... Don't forget that!
    philipo - 22-Mar-19 @ 3:23 PM
    My employer has installed a cctv camera in the canteen at work. Is this allowed/legal?
    Concerned - 20-Mar-19 @ 3:56 PM
    I was assaulted at work by a member of the public, and the situation wasn't handled very well. I've asked my management to see the footage of what happened but they won't let me see it because of GDPR. Do I have a right to see it?
    DE1 - 19-Feb-19 @ 2:35 AM
    Can a employee put a secret camera up at work without consent
    Dazza - 6-Feb-19 @ 9:36 AM
    I work for the local council as a security guard, we have been issued with body cameras. The cameras fall off and are very unreliable, so we offered to buy our own but were refused. Could I still buy and wear my own even of they say no?
    Fat head - 5-Jan-19 @ 12:52 PM
    Hello my name is Harry I work for a Roofing Supplies company can they have a camara where we have get changed and have our lockers ????
    Wizard - 13-Dec-18 @ 5:56 PM
    covert camera hidden in toilet cubicle at my employers factory,when challenged about it they said it was to catch those responsible for writing on the walls.
    8R34THL355 - 11-Nov-18 @ 8:29 PM
    Employee monitoring is a routine. The important thing is that the tracking of the actions of the staff was loyal to them. I use monitoring software, SoftActivity. During work, the productivity of my company is growing, and the efficiency of employees is very pleased. So the main thing is to see the line in this case.
    leonardo229 - 9-Oct-18 @ 5:19 PM
    My girlfriend works in a laundry shop where she is watched by cctv cameras & listened to by the owner & her sister who doesn't have nothing yo do with the business.They listen to her have private conversations on her mobile phone then phone her up mentioning what's been spoke about and even speaks to third parties about girlfriends conversations.She isn't allowed to leave the shop or take a break when working which is meant to be 9 till 5 but the owner always disappears just before 5 making her stay without asking or any extra pay till 9pm sometimes as she and leave the shop. She's been there 6 years without any time off as employer won't pay holiday pay and even after an operation and told to take 6 weeks off was back in work next day as employer refused to pay any sick pay. This employer won't even pay her wage in 1 payment sometimes paying small amounts over a period of 4 or 5 days (which when worked out at an hourly rate the hours worked and what's paid is well below national minimum wage)I know alot is wrong legally with this employer and her ways but girlfriend is scared of losing job.Any help would be appreciated thanks
    Concerned - 10-Sep-18 @ 12:33 AM
    We have cctv in our trucks it can only be accessible through the vehicle is it OK for the employer to carry out spot checks
    Hgv 1 - 2-Sep-18 @ 10:15 AM
    Working in a factory environment there’s cameras on the shop floor and outside changing rooms but there’s also cameras outsideand one at the front entrance but these havesigns sayingimages are being recorded for the purpose of crime and public safety And my company have been using these to monitor staff and using as evidence for non crimes miss conduct is this a dpa breach?
    Simple2512 - 21-Aug-18 @ 12:35 AM
    If an employee accesses CCTV to collate evidence without permission against another staff member can this be used and is that employee in breach of privacy rights?
    Lewis - 6-Aug-18 @ 11:07 AM
    Is it legal to have microphones in the workplace
    Jules - 27-Jul-18 @ 3:02 PM
    I work as a caregiver in home. I've worked for the same client for 3 years. It's a step mom and dad the son is who I care for he's 24 with MD and needs total care. About 6 months ago I noticed spy cams everywhere kitchen living room bed room. Spy cameras in the picture lamp shades coffee pots flowers and more places and I don't care no big deal RIGHT but one day I was using the bathroom and saw a spy cam I found a total of 5 in the bathroom now I'm up set also I found 3 in my car I went to the police and the police officer took pictures of the spy cameras I told them everything I know. The officer said that they can go to my work and see if my boss will let them in the house.the office said with out aSearch warrant there's not much they can doAnd by the time they get a search warrant my boss can pull out the spy cameras so I started taking pictures of these things in the bathroom..so now what do I do anyone.? If I turn them in then my client will lose his IHSS and I don't have a job anymore I'm sure I'll get my unemployment but I will feel bad but I don't really think they care about me because if I ask for a day off the dad always says what about my son. I work 6days a week 12hours a day I only have Sunday off to try and get my stuff done so I don't get to rest and most everything is closed on Sunday's I do way more than what I'mSupposed to do... help anyone where do I go .....
    Care - 4-Jul-18 @ 8:20 AM
    I work as a caregiver in home. I've worked for the same client for 3 years. It's a step mom and dad the son is who I care for he's 24 with MD and needs total care. About 6 months ago I noticed spy cams everywhere kitchen living room bed room. Spy cameras in the picture lamp shades coffee pots flowers and more places and I don't care no big deal RIGHT but one day I was using the bathroom and saw a spy cam I found a total of 5 in the bathroom now I'm up set also I found 3 in my car I went to the police and the police officer took pictures of the spy cameras I told them everything I know. The officer said that they can go to my work and see if my boss will let them in the house.the office said with out aSearch warrant there's not much they can doAnd by the time they get a search warrant my boss can pull out the spy cameras so I started taking pictures of these things in the bathroom..so now what do I do anyone.? If I turn them in then my client will lose his IHSS and I don't have a job anymore I'm sure I'll get my unemployment but I will feel bad but I don't really think they care about me because if I ask for a day off the dad always says what about my son. I work 6days a week 12hours a day I only have Sunday off to try and get my stuff done so I don't get to rest and most everything is closed on Sunday's I do way more than what I'mSupposed to do... help anyone where do I go .....
    Care - 4-Jul-18 @ 8:15 AM
    @Superchick- that sounds horrendous. No shirking in your salon then and adding an extra ten minutes onto your break lol. I don't think your employer has to tell the clients unless the treatment is of a personal nature
    HH - 25-Jun-18 @ 11:06 AM
    I work in a beauty salon and my manager has cameras where she watches us. She is not a qualified therapist and will watch from Home and then call the salon when she thinks we are doing something wrong. I also cannot see any signs in the salon to say that there are cameras for your own safety (so the public are unaware) . Is this legal?
    Superchick - 24-Jun-18 @ 9:00 AM
    Hi I am a Nurse, and I video one of my colleagues while she was sleeping on duty. I emailed the video to my manager. I would like to know of I can lose my nursing pin because of this issue. Thank you
    Elena - 22-May-18 @ 3:25 AM
    We had a missing key at wrk a staff member took it home and my boss checked cctv and saw another member of staff using company pc on internet can my employer use cctv against him ????
    Quaysknight - 17-May-18 @ 2:45 PM
    @Smelly - when you personally feel that the other person has overstepped the mark. Or you tell them they have overstepped the mark and they do not stop.
    TerriM - 27-Apr-18 @ 2:50 PM
    My Boss put a camera back of the chippy, so he can see everythng last one year.everytime im coming in the shop on morning after 50s is phone call, he's on the phone... i dont mind cameras at the front, because shop's at the front and that the place where custumers coming, but back of the shop when im doing a prep my self, going to the toilet, using my phone, i feell uncomfortable now, i have been watced every step.even when i shut the shop end of the night, i know he's watching.even sometimes we all staff come 2gether for a chat he phone's why r we r in the back of the shop, is that allright to work under theese rulles??
    Boris - 26-Apr-18 @ 2:09 AM
    We had some one at work filmin for perposs of how we work and what they could do to improve things. But while the filming was taking place some one was joking about banter. After the person watch the footage they decided to put a complaint in against the person who was giving the banter. This person has know been suespend for this under racists and bully terms can they do this ?
    Smelly - 20-Apr-18 @ 4:36 PM
    When do you know when some one is bulling or not and do you decide if banter or not?
    Smelly - 20-Apr-18 @ 4:16 PM
    An incident happened at my work place with another member of staff which is on cctv, I was wondering Can my employee show a person who doesn’t work for the company (a guest) cctv footage of this? As all staff members are on the footage and no one was asked if it can be shown to the guest? & I wasn’t sure if they are allowed to just show footage of people?..
    Sarahjones - 12-Mar-18 @ 11:56 PM
    My wife works in a taxi call office and there is three owners and put cctv in and they sit in there own homes and watch the staff allday
    sevs - 2-Mar-18 @ 4:28 PM
    Is an employer aloud to listen in on conversations in work place using CCTV? If so what are my employer rights?
    Marls - 12-Feb-18 @ 7:17 PM
    @Boxer girl- there's not much you can do. The management have a right to request this, if they don't want people sleeping on the job.
    HaN - 2-Feb-18 @ 12:42 PM
    Recently a a member of staff who was known to sleep whilst on night shift was photographed by his colleague and has been sacked management have now sent a blanket e-mail to all staff stating the if your shift partner falls asleep whilst on duty they are to take a photo or visit and send it to the management team, is this legal whilst I don’t condone people sleeping when they should be working and believe they deserve what they have coming I am not comfortable that management have said it’s ok to take a photo and share without that persons knowledge that it’s been done.
    Boxer girl - 31-Jan-18 @ 11:01 PM
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Latest Comments
  • Irene
    Re: Employee Surveillance
    My employer and another staff member jave been showing cctv footage of me to customers in the shop where I work. The other staff member has…
    24 March 2019
  • Work hard
    Re: Employee Surveillance
    My employee put hidden microphone in kitchen. They know what we are talking. Can't talk anything private things. If we do she asked us. We…
    23 March 2019
  • philipo
    Re: Employee Surveillance
    I think we are entering the age of Orwell's '1984'. How did we manage before all the tech? All this just to squeeze the very last drop of…
    22 March 2019
  • Concerned
    Re: Employee Surveillance
    My employer has installed a cctv camera in the canteen at work. Is this allowed/legal?
    20 March 2019
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    6 March 2019
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    Re: Your Medical Records
    Information I've had a med restriction put on me without my knowledge . Is this legal can I find out who and why
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  • DE1
    Re: Employee Surveillance
    I was assaulted at work by a member of the public, and the situation wasn't handled very well. I've asked my management to see the footage…
    19 February 2019