Workplace surveillance can have many benefits for employers and staff, but it can be tricky to navigate. As an employer, you naturally want to protect the business and keep a close eye on its day-to-day running, but you dont want to upset anyone. The last thing you want to do is to make your employees feel that you dont trust them or breach any privacy laws.

Why carry out workplace surveillance in the first place?

There are quite a few reasons why workplace surveillance can be worth doing, even if there are some employee and legal issues to be worked out. For example, it allows employers to:

  • * Prevent or deter crime, theft or misconduct
  • * Ensure company policies are not broken
  • * Safeguard employees and protect members of the public
  • * Ensure high-quality customer service
  • * Train staff and improve business processes and procedures
  • * Assess productivity and efficiency
  • * Comply with legal and regulatory responsibilities

The rules

Before installing surveillance equipment, getting clued up on what you are and aren't allowed to do is very important. The first thing to remember is that you cant place surveillance cameras anywhere that there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as changing rooms, toilets and bathrooms. You are responsible for keeping any footage you record safe, so you cant share it online or sell it to a third party.

You must have a legitimate reason for using surveillance equipment, such as security concerns or safeguarding employees, and you can only use the footage for that intended purpose. Lastly, it is recommended to carry out an impact assessment, looking at how the use of cameras may adversely affect employees. If a complaint is ever made, you will have ensured that you covered all bases when considering employee needs.

Keeping your staff on-side

You may legally be allowed to film employees while at work, as long as you follow all the rules, but this doesn't necessarily mean your staff will be happy about it. To keep the trust between yourself and your employees, it's crucial to keep everyone on your side. The best way to do this is to be up-front and honest about using surveillance equipment. Hold a meeting in which you explain why workplace surveillance is needed, and ensure that you highlight the benefits to employees (i.e. safeguarding them while at work).

With careful wording and plenty of sensitivity, you can explain your reasoning to your team. Hopefully, they will appreciate your honesty and the fact that you are taking the time to inform them of whats going on. It's also a very good idea to put a policy in place for workplace monitoring that you can explain to new recruits when they start. This makes it less of a change and more of a standard workplace policy that everyone will gradually accept.