Posts Tagged ‘e-monitoring’

E-Monitoring in the Workplace: Do’s and Do Not’s

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

The e-monitoring of what employees do in the workplace may include the use of video surveillance, keystroke logger software, email filters, phone logs, phone call recordings, Global Positioning Systems, and logs of website visits, among other methods.

Although courts have tended to reject infringement of privacy claims based on employer e-monitoring, the best course of action is to have a company policy that clearly states which communications are subject to monitoring—including when, where and why. Most employees believe that it is okay for their employer to monitor them only if they are made aware of the fact that they are being monitored. The company that monitors employees secretly is only asking for trouble.

Here are the do’s and do not’s of e-monitoring in the workplace.

DO:

  • Create and distribute a company policy that lets employees know what is being monitored, when it is monitored, where it is monitored, and why monitoring is necessary.
  • Be sure to state what benefits monitoring will bring to the company as a whole.
  • Monitor only what is absolutely necessary. Company management should not be perceived as an intrusive or abusive “Big Brother.”
  • Ensure that the personnel who have access to the monitored information have a “need to know.” Access must be limited to only certain highly trusted individuals.
  • Securely store the data collected, particularly when it includes sensitive information, and let employees know that this data is not available for internal or external public disclosure.
  • Address employee use of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook or blogging during work hours. Company policy should provide guidelines for blogging or tweeting about the company, its personnel and its products and services.

DO NOT:

  • Do not make employees feel paranoid or uncomfortable.
  • Do not place severe restrictions on employees’ use of cell phone and text message communications. Granted, you do not want drivers sending text messages or being distracted by cell phone calls while on the job, but in most workplaces, the safe and occasional use of personal cell phones rarely disrupts work processes.
  • Do not implement technologies such as webcams, location tracking devices or keyloggers on company laptops or other resources without a thorough understanding of the technology’s capabilities and rigorous legal review.
  • Do not neglect to address employees’ use of their personal Internet-based email accounts using company resources such as computers or company-issued cell phones. Any restrictions should be clearly stated in your company policy on e-monitoring.
  • Do not try to completely restrict employees’ use of the Internet in a prohibitive manner. You will create goodwill when employees are allowed to surf the Web during lunch hours or breaks to quickly look up the address of a restaurant or to order products online.

Breaches of employee privacy can result in litigation or employee retention issues at the very least. Approach e-monitoring with a healthy respect for privacy laws and today’s complex regulatory environment, as well as sensitivity to ordinary human behavior, and you will be successful.

For additional information about e-monitoring in the workplace, please call a member of CAI’s Advice and Counsel team at (919) 878-9222 or (336) 668-7746.

Photo source: Ed Yourdon