Do employers have a legal right to monitor employees’ online conduct?
Employers are entitled to monitor employees’ online conduct. The right of employers to monitor employees is subject to legislation and codes of practice. Employers need to ensure:
1 Their monitoring of employees should be proportionate, which means that the employer must consider any less obtrusive alternatives.
2 Employers should provide employees with certain details about the purpose of the monitoring and how it will be carried out.
3 Employers should carry out an impact assessment which should aim to balance the needs of the employer against the employee’s rights to privacy.
4 Employers must adhere to the Data Protection Act when monitoring and storing data.
It is imperative employers have a clear employment policy in place about how monitoring will take place, who will be doing the monitoring and what security steps are in place to protect the employee’s privacy. It is imperative that employers behave in a manner to maintain trust and confidence between them and the employee and monitor in a reasonable way. The policy should set standards and cross refer to other relevant policies, for example the disciplinary and anti harassment policy. Monitoring should be a last, not a first, resort and setting standards for acceptable behaviour in the work place should come first.