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What Do Employers Need To Know About Surveilling Employees?

Friday 23 March 2018

As a business owner you may feel that there are certain circumstances that warrant you investing in surveillance to monitor your employees.

While there is nothing in UK law preventing you from taking certain measures to monitor those working for you, there have been some important test cases in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) recently.

An article for Mondaq recently highlighted two of the most important outcomes - both of which saw the court rule in favour of the employees.

One was in favour of Mr Barbulescu, who was dismissed for using his professional Yahoo account to send personal messages, which the employer discovered by accessing his account to check his usage.

The other was where an employer in Spain installed covert video surveillance to find out if staff were stealing.

Even though five of the employees were caught stealing, the ECHR still ruled that their right to privacy under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act had been breached because they were not notified of the surveillance and it unfairly targeted all workers, not just those suspected of theft.

What does this mean for businesses that want to hire surveillance detectives in Surrey? According to the ECHR, they need to ensure that “any monitoring undertaken is proportionate and for legitimate reasons”.

Employees should also be informed about any monitoring, unless the circumstances are exceptional, the article added.

The Belfast Telegraph noted that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has agreed with this ruling, based on the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is due to come into force in the UK in May.