TUC: Staff Fear Workplace Surveillance

TUC: Staff Fear Workplace Surveillance

More than half (56%) of workers in the UK believe their employer is monitoring them at work, according to new research from the TUC.

The trade union federation commissioned BritainThinks to run focus groups and poll a representative sample of 2100 members of the UK public to find out more about attitudes to surveillance at work.

Along with the majority that thinks it’s “likely” they’re being monitored at work, nearly three-quarters (72%) believe it’s at least “fairly likely” that they’re subjected to one or more forms of workplace monitoring.

The monitoring of work emails, personal files and web browsing was pegged as “very likely” or “fairly likely” by 49% of respondents, followed by CCTV (45%) and phone logs and calls (42%).

These are, of course, only the perceptions of employees. Aside from clearly visible CCTV, it would be hard to say with any certainty whether one’s employers are engaged in surveillance activities.

In fact, under the GDPR, any employer that wants to engage in monitoring of staff must have a clear legal basis for doing so and has to notify staff of any such measures. Limited surveillance may be justified for health and safety and regulatory compliance reasons, or to prevent crime, misconduct and other reasons.

The forms of surveillance deemed least acceptable to respondents were: facial recognition software and mood monitoring (76% against), monitoring of social media accounts outside work (69%), monitoring employee’s location via mobile devices (67%) and keylogging (57%).

Two-thirds of workers (66%) said they’re worried that surveillance by employers could be used in a discriminatory way if left unregulated, while 70% believe monitoring will become more commonplace in the future.

The TUC wants to have a bigger say in such rules, demanding a legal right to be consulted on use of surveillance tools at work before they are implemented.

General secretary, Frances O’Grady, said employers shouldn’t use technology to “control and micromanage” their employees.

“Monitoring toilet breaks, tracking every movement and snooping on staff outside of working hours creates fear and distrust. And it undermines morale,” she added.

“New technologies should not be used to whittle away our right to privacy, even when we’re at work. Employers should discuss and agree workplace monitoring policies with their workforces — not impose them upon them. Unions can negotiate agreements that safeguard workers’ privacy while still making sure the job gets done.”

Source: Information Security Magazine