Important Laws Regarding Employee Monitoring


There are employee monitoring methods that can be used to effectively maintain productivity, to make sure a safe work environment is maintained and that company resources are protected. A remote desktop software known as Remote Utilities is intended solely for administration and support to be conducted in a remote fashion. It is not meant for employee monitoring however some customers do make use of it to monitor the computer screens of their employees, the view of their web camera as well as the sounds being produced.

A number of countries throughout the world make use of Remote Utilities. It is very difficult to tailor products according to the privacy protection laws of every country as they tend to differ. Due to this, employers need to be careful regarding how they conduct employee surveillance remotely and that monitoring is regulated in the country where they are doing their business.

The laws in every country are different. The Federal Wiretapping Act/ Electronic Communications Privacy Act in the US, for example, doesn’t allow electronic communication to be intentionally captured or disclosed where privacy is expected. The employees must be given full knowledge by the employer as well as made to give their consent to be legally monitored.

In Canada, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act limits commercial employers in how they collect, store and even disclose the personal information of employees. Furthermore, employees have a right to access and review the information and to make corrections in case they may not be accurate.

The legislation in the UK regarding employee surveillance tends to be quite confusing, however. The Data Protection Act of 1998 and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act of 2000 ban employers from being able to monitor the calls of their employees and from getting a hold of their emails without their permission. The Telecommunications Interception of Communications Regulations of 2000, however, gives employers limited rights to monitor employees under specific circumstances.

The laws in Europe can be confusing as well. Those companies which monitor the use of cell phones, the internet, and email of their employees and do not inform them or take their permission prior to doing so can be sued under the European Convention on Human Rights- Article 8.

Employers who wish to monitor their employees in various countries should be aware of the laws in place in both countries. Governing bodies at times may also restrict data from leaving its jurisdiction.

What is common throughout these laws is the protection of the right to privacy of the employee. While employees may be on company time and maybe making use of their property, they still have a right to privacy. In order to avoid the violation of privacy laws, employers should disclose everything regarding employee monitoring.

Employers need to be mindful of the various perceptions which exist between employees when it comes to monitoring and surveillance. Companies should have clear policies regarding the monitoring of employees which should also be communicated to employees as well. An example can be taken from the Remote Utility software in which a warning banner is displayed when the webcam is activated giving the user notice and making them aware that someone may be watching or listening to their activities.

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