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Employee Surveillance

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 13 Dec 2018 | 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 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
    It's one thing to own a business of your own, it's another thing to have reliable bussiness partner that are trust worthy. At some point I became super busy with a particular project I was handling and so I was hardly around to monitor ongoing activities at the art gallery I manage, my accountant decided she used that means to run some illegal biz luring two other workers in it and this went on for a while until it was brought to my notice but it was a well planned work that they hardly left a trace behind and I needed to fish them out. Was referred to two different hackers and even downloaded a spy app as well but none gave me what I wanted, almost gave up on finding out as I couldn't find proofs until someone recommended a professional hacker so I thought I should give it a trial. OMG! It worked like magic! To cut long story short, all illegal transactions were exposed, ALL THANKS to Gary. you can contact GHT by email garyadrianh AT gmail dot com. You can also text him + one eight zero three eight one four five three eight six
    Isabella - 8-Dec-18 @ 7:34 AM
    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
    Whatever the motivation of an employer taking measures to record Staff and Member of Public on a day to day basis; And I am familiar with most of the modern methodology. The very act of doing so could drive a member of staff, at the very least, to suffer mild paranoia and behavioural changes which both affect and effect their quality of life, both in work, and out of work, whether such an employee has a very strong ethical approach to their work time, or not. Any employer, employing such aides for surveillance should be familiar with human sensitivities, as well as human rights, per say, and should be aware that at some point that people outside their own world of Boss and ShopWorkers will find out about the surveillance, usually because it worries the shop-worker to the extent of informing customers their selves of their discomfort at working within the above 'conditions'. Just to cite one situation, from my own experiences as a customer in such a position as above. (I), - spend a little extra time speaking to a shop-worker whom is in the middle ground, between acquaintance and friend, so to speak. I have recently discovered that the shop owner is using sound and visual recording methods, citing two main reasons to the part-time employees; 1). A very recent robbery after work hours. 2). Previous small scale fraud by previous employees. In taking into account that one wish of the employer is that the shop door is left open so that it becomes a welcome gesture, so to speak, - which I do understand, this also affects the employees, whom get very cold, whilst at work! .... I have recently decided to limit the amount of time I spend, chatting to the employee because the employer, if so wishes, could warn 'said employee' that, "Too much time is used, chatting to customers!".The last thing I wish for is to get Any employee into trouble! I would ask any employers out there to assess the plus's and minuses of this surveillance from the point of view (also) of the shop worker and the majority of the law abiding customers. To end, I will add that even before the employer resorted to this surveillance, - there was a very speedy 'turn-over rate'of different staff in the preceding year, obvious from public perception, because of the ever changing faces! Over indulgence with surveillance has effect and affect on many people, inside and outside of the shop, leading to decreased income within the shop and other variables outside the shop! This whole subject would not be such an issue if the employer used their empathy and skill to properly assess potential employees in the first instance. And here, I am only speaking of one hard working, honest and trustworthy employee. Best Regards To Those Willing To Prosper By Nurturing Basic Trust. 'Bad Brains' Steve.
    Bad Brains. - 31-Jan-18 @ 10:15 AM
    rob2811 - Your Question:
    During a shift at work me and some colleges were having a laugh and a joke which did include some swearing and other remarks however in the environment all the staff where like this and it was nothing more than banter. somehow the conversation was recorded on a bodyworn camera that had magically been turned on/or covertly hidden by a member of staff to listen to what people are saying and then to cause issues because people have fallen out with him. this has happened a number of times and has been brought to the attention of the managers on numerous occasions by a number of staff and duty managers how ever nothing was done. the policy and procedures state that any footage recorded should be deleted and not watched at the end of the shift unless and incident has taken place when it is then saved. the footage in question conveniently had no images just audio and a member of staff has sat through 4 hours of audio for no reason other than to hear what people are saying. he has then used this against some staff and resulted in a number of us being sacked. the university are saying they arent interested how it was obtained and arent prepared to listen that it was recorded illegally, covertly to cause problems for individuals. as anyone else had something llike this happen to them or have any advice for me??

    Our Response:
    Hopefully, you will be able to find the answer you need via the TUC link here. Otherwise, you may have to give ACAS a ring to see whether your employer has gone through the correct process. With gross misconduct, while an employer can dismiss an employee immediately as they follow a fair procedure. The employer should investigate the incident and give the employee a chance to respond before deciding to dismiss them.
    YourPrivacy - 21-Dec-17 @ 2:42 PM
    during a shift at work me and some colleges were having a laugh and a joke which did include some swearing and other remarks however in the environment all the staff where like this and it was nothing more than banter.. somehow the conversation was recorded on a bodyworn camera that had magically been turned on/or covertly hidden by a member of staff to listen to what people are saying and then to cause issues because people have fallen out with him. this has happened a number of times and has been brought to the attention of the managers on numerous occasions by a number of staff and duty managers how ever nothing was done.... the policy and procedures state that any footage recorded should be deleted and not watched at the end of the shift unless and incident has taken place when it is then saved... the footage in question conveniently had no images just audio and a member of staff has sat through 4 hours of audio for no reason other than to hear what people are saying. he has then used this against some staff and resulted in a number of us being sacked..... theuniversity are saying they arent interested how it was obtained and arent prepared to listen that it was recorded illegally, covertly to cause problems for individuals... as anyone else had something llike this happen to them or have any advice for me??
    rob2811 - 19-Dec-17 @ 6:22 PM
    @None - employers can use any means they choose to find out if their employees are doing something they shouldn't!
    Aussie - 24-Oct-17 @ 2:27 PM
    Can employers use the reflection of a forward facing camera to catch drivers on phones or smoking?
    None - 22-Oct-17 @ 10:07 PM
    My employer has used dashcam footage of me reversing a van unaided several times throughout my working day and now dismissed me for causing damage to the van. Can an employer use dashcam footage as evidence against me without my autherisation?
    Stu.R - 18-Oct-17 @ 8:21 AM
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