Home > Workplace > Employee Surveillance

Employee Surveillance

By: Anna Hinds BA (hons) - Updated: 22 May 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).

    You might also like...
    Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
    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
    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
    Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
    Title:
    (never shown)
    Firstname:
    (never shown)
    Surname:
    (never shown)
    Email:
    (never shown)
    Nickname:
    (shown)
    Comment:
    Validate:
    Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the YourPrivacy website. Please read our Disclaimer.