Sunday, October 27, 2013

How to determine the critical line in employee monitoring

There are various reasons why employers will want to monitor the activities of their employees. This may include the need to drive higher productivity, prevention of petty crimes like theft, adherence to high quality control, evidence of harassment and discrimination if there’s a claim and many more. The monitoring can be done in several ways such as tracking incoming and outgoing phone calls, email correspondence and video recordings. The problem arises when the employees feel that their rights to privacy are being violated and this may in turn lead to a dispute. Employees have a right to reasonable expectations of privacy and can file for a claim if they feel that they are not getting it.

So what to consider in monitoring your employees, where to draw the line?

Video surveillance is justified when the employer is trying to prevent theft whether it is on the company’s inventory or of employee properties. But this can only be done on certain areas on the business premise. Limitations are clearly set on the areas where reasonable expectation of privacy is needed such as bathrooms, lounge, break rooms, and rooms where employees change clothes.

Quality is very important for businesses and one way to ensure adherence is to monitor the phone calls whether incoming or outgoing. This includes cell phone tracking with such apps like mSpy for all mobile phones issued by the company to employees. Employers are allowed to monitor calls but it has to be only on the business related ones and should not be done on personal calls. Employees sometimes neglect to consider that there is monitoring going on when they make calls for personal use. The way to resolve this is to assign certain phones only for personal use so that the staff will not have to use the business only phones.

Discrimination still exists even in the most professional settings. But proving this is sometimes tricky when there is no trail to check if there is indeed a reasonable claim. Employers want to monitor email correspondence to help them track if ever there is a claim of discrimination. Whenever someone sends an email to one or even a distribution list that contains disparaging remarks or discriminatory ones about a certain person, it is to the advantage of everyone to have monitoring in place. Although legally, employers are entitled to monitor their staff’s email, it is still advisable to inform all the employees about the monitoring so as to avoid any possible issues about it.

Businesses should have a clear and official policy about monitoring of employee activities and this should be signed and acknowledged by each person that is hired. This should include all types of monitoring that will be done and how such as monitoring of incoming and outgoing phone calls, cell phone tracking, email monitoring and video surveillance. This is to avoid any claims in the future that their privacy was invaded and if there are lawsuits filed by employees, then the employer can clearly show that there is a document advising of diminished expectation of privacy.

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