Securing Employee Safety

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British employment laws do not prohibit employers from installing CCTV cameras in every nook and cranny of an office to monitor employees. The only protection from intrusion of privacy comes from the Data Protection Act, which sets limits to the recording of material filmed on CCTV.

But the actual monitoring of CCTV at the workplace does not fall under the scope of the data protection law, which means the surveillance of employees is perfectly legal as long as cameras are not installed in restrooms or canteens, and that employees are informed they are being filmed.

Whenever the material captured on digital CCTV is recorded and stored, then it is considered as personal data which cannot be stored indefinitely. The recordings can only be used for security or the other administrative purposes, for which the cameras were installed.

"In places like banks, casinos, department stores and other establishments, it is common practice to have such systems in place. Indeed these systems may serve to protect the employees themselves," reported a data protection commissioner.

Normally the recordings cannot be kept for more than seven days.

In addition to the use of digital CCTV to monitor employees, in certain circumstances work email is also monitored. Since the use of the computer on the place of work is for business purposes, it’s up to the employer to decide whether an e-mail may be used for personal reasons.

Although the employer may not be precluded from viewing these emails, as a general rule the employer should not be looking into e-mail and other content in the worker’s PC. However, monitoring may be justified in exceptional cases, such as the use of e-mail for irregular activities by an employee, protection from viruses and in order to maintain correspondence when an employee is out of office.

In conclusion, if your employer has installed digital CCTV in your workplace, it is likely that it is there for your protection, and the only ones to worry about its presence are those that have something to hide.

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