The Legality of Workforce Monitoring – Employee Monitoring Legal Issues

Monitoring your workforce and workplace isn’t anything new. Online businesses have been using various monitoring techniques and video surveillance to track events at the workplace. Some companies even built their own monitoring technology to monitor workplace safety and prevent potential threats.Talk to local commercial litigation lawyers Melbourne business owners’ seek out for advice on how to manage the risk involved with monitoring employees.

Workforce monitoring could expose your company to employee monitoring legal issues. However, you can avoid these issues by achieving the right balance between employee privacy and workforce monitoring. Let’s discuss employee monitoring and how to protect employees’ privacy.

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Reasons to monitor employees

A recent study indicated that almost 80% of digital businesses of all sizes practice some form of workforce monitoring to track employee activity. Business leaders are trying to determine employee behavior patterns using monitoring systems.

A 2018 survey showed that 94% of businesses used some method of workplace monitoring. According to these stats, worker surveillance has become common among modern business organizations.

The reasons to monitor your workforce and track your employee activity are many:

  • Workforce monitoring prevents cyber attacks;
  • It contains inappropriate behavior;
  • It helps avoid workplace conflict;
  • It protects against IT threats and data loss;
  • It can boost productivity.
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Despite the many benefits, workforce monitoring can also cause trouble for business leaders as it could endanger employee privacy rights.

Since this is a complex and sensitive topic, employers must take precautions and implement the best monitoring practices to avoid consequences like legal issues, productivity loss, increased absenteeism, and low morale.

Typical forms of employee monitoring

There are seven most common types of employee monitoring.

Internet usage

Business leaders are worried about what workers are doing online. They monitor internet activity and usage by tracking app and web activities to check the time spent online per employee.

Internet usage monitoring can help prevent suspicious network activities and malicious data and avoid exposing corporate systems to cyber threats such as malware and ransomware. It can also ensure that company resources don’t fall into the wrong hands.

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Email monitoring

Email is still the main channel of communication for countless businesses. Email monitoring can help minimize cybersecurity threats, policy violations, excessive personal use, data breaches, etc.

Video surveillance

While video surveillance mainly serves security purposes, it can help with workforce monitoring by tracking customer misconduct, employee activities in real-time, and worker’s location.

Voicemail and phone calls

Aside from preventing the use of corporate phone systems for personal gains, monitoring calls helps employers improve customer service quality.

GPS tracking

GPS or location tracking is one of the most effective ways of employee monitoring. Employers can track employees’ whereabouts in real-time and verify their activities.

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Keylogging allows employers to monitor employees’ computer activity by recording every keystroke they make.

Video and screen capture

Some occupations require employers to track work progress and stay on top of priorities. They use various applications to take random screenshots and capture what employees are working on. Reliable and user-friendly employee monitoring tools can capture screenshots while being mindful of the person’s privacy and sensitive information.

How to balance workforce monitoring and workplace privacy

Before you start monitoring your workforce, you must ensure compliance with state and federal laws surrounding such practices.

While the law permits you to do it discreetly, different regions have privacy regulations you must follow.

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Since you’re personally and legally responsible for the data you gather using workforce analytics tools, here’s how to monitor your employees without violating their privacy.

Keep things transparent

According to a recent survey, 77% of employees said they would have nothing against workplace monitoring if companies kept monitoring policies transparent. Educate your employees on the benefits of workforce monitoring and explain how they can leverage it.

Your workforce must understand that you’re not doing it to micromanage them but to help them. Inform your employees of the monitoring practices and discuss how you plan to monitor their activities to allow them to adjust.

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Talk to your employees about the benefit of workplace monitoring

Monitoring your workforce will be easier and more productive if you get employees’ consent. You can get them on board with new practices by explaining the benefits they get:

  • Precise time tracking;
  • Accurate payments;
  • Employee autonomy;
  • No need for managers to frequently check in;
  • Employee recognition and reward.

Know your limits

Monitoring technology can be invasive for employees and might create negative bias. Because of that, you should set some limits and only monitor what’s necessary. How you use the data you gather is also vital to your efforts.

The last thing you need is to reduce your employee’s trust and affect workplace morale. You can solve much of their doubt by creating an employee-friendly monitoring policy that will respect their privacy and sensitive information and help them understand their data will help improve the work environment and productivity.

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Employee monitoring can help boost workplace productivity and engagement but only when you do it legally and ethically.

You should only monitor business-related activities to ensure privacy and avoid employee monitoring legal issues. When implementing non-invasive workforce monitoring strategies, be mindful of your employees and their personal information.

That’s the only way to boost efficiency, enhance productivity, and gain the trust of your employees. Otherwise, you might invade their privacy rights.

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