Many managers are monitoring the employees that report to them by keeping track of their phone and internet usage, conducting searches, and even videotaping their activities at work.
There are many benefits to keeping tabs on employees, such as making sure they are focusing all their time and energy on work rather than personal activities, and watching to make sure they do their work properly and safely.
However, the U.K. has strict data protection laws about monitoring individuals at work which some supervisors don’t follow. Read this article to make sure you are not making any of these mistakes.
Not Notifying Employees – There have been occurrences where managers install security cameras and tracking devices in their offices over the weekend, but fail to notify their staff about the new additions come Monday morning. Or, a manager brings in a new employee and does not disclose the fact that the company monitors its staff. Gov.uk instructs all employers and managers to let their employees know “if they’re being monitored; what counts as a reasonable number of personal emails and phone calls (and) if personal emails and calls are not allowed.” Make sure to follow these guidelines; failure to do so can result in a lawsuit and heavy fines.
Not Conducting Proper Drug Searches – Many companies in the U.K. conduct drug searches for employees. However, managers need to be careful as to how those tests are administered. For example, tests can be either given to all new employees, or provided randomly to existing ones. Individuals cannot be singled out and made to perform a drug test, or that person can claim to be unfairly discriminated upon. Also, all employees need to provide their informed consent before taking drug tests.
Not Providing a Code of Conduct – Some supervisors do let their staff know that monitoring is taking place, but they still fail to provide a staff handbook with a code of conduct as it relates to monitoring. Employers need to clearly spell out where they are monitoring employees; what counts as monitoring; what is allowed and prohibited; how any tests or searches will be performed; and disciplinary actions that may be taken if an employee refuses to be monitored, or is found to be in violation of the rules, such as failing a drug test. If managers do not provide this information to everyone, or fail to follow their own rules, the company may be liable for failure to comply with the Data Protection Act.
More and more organisations in the U.K. are choosing to install devices and track the activities of their staff.
However, some of the managers are not familiar with the laws that govern how monitoring can and should take place.
Make an informed decision if are you planning to start monitoring at work by reading up on all the laws, and train your staff on all the details involved.
Head of Training
Originally published: 12 January, 2015
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