Employee Monitoring: Assessing the Risks and Benefits
The rapid pace of technological advancement presents both opportunities and challenges to businesses. Opportunities arise from the abundance of tools now available at our fingertips. Equipping employees with mobile devices frees them from the constraints of their desks and can often yield greater productivity and efficiency. Increased mobility combined with advances in communications tools and technologies are changing the way that companies operate. Full office functionality is now available on a growing number of devices and the number of communications platforms is increasing all of the time. These factors allow businesses to decentralise, tap into new markets and provide an improved level of service to their clients.
At the same time, however, this presents an increasingly pressing set of challenges. With employees having access to a greater number of tools than ever before, organisations need to ensure that they are not vulnerable to unforeseen risks. Today’s employers are increasingly concerned with issues surrounding security, the protection of confidential data and privacy issues, as well as minimising the chances of liability for employee actions and comments made online.
This ever-pressing dilemma that arises from the need to embrace technological change, on the one hand, and the need to mitigate risk, on the other, has created an environment in which employee monitoring is increasingly necessary. Most organisations monitor their employees to some extent, and it has be found that internet use and emails are the activities being most commonly monitored. By monitoring these activities, employers can ensure that the basic privacy and security of their organisation is not compromised and that any issues are quickly detected.
To mitigate risk, employers need to have clearly defined standards of acceptable use of their IT systems as well as an employee monitoring policy that is detailed, fair and proportional to the risks. Employers need to be aware of the legal implications of employee monitoring and the risks this in itself can bring to their organisation, when not handled correctly.
Employers must be aware of the rules regulating monitoring and interception of specific types of communication. Employee monitoring must be carried out in accordance with regulations, if employers are to avoid potential legal action against them. Under the Human Rights Act, individuals have a right to respect for their private and family life, home and correspondence and this is increasingly being taken into account by courts and tribunals. Clearly, monitoring can potentially impact on the privacy of employees and this is something that needs to be taken seriously when designing employee monitoring policies.
There are also other rules which regulate the monitoring and interception of communications such as the Telecommunications Regulations and the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, for example.
However, there is no absolute right to privacy and monitoring is justified under certain circumstances. One way that employers can justify employee monitoring and protect their organisation is by ensuring that their reasons for monitoring communications align with the purposes specified in the Telecommunications Regulations.
In short, employers should carry out research and seek legal advice prior to implementing a monitoring policy. When employers are aware of what constitutes acceptable monitoring, they are able to design a monitoring policy that strikes a fair balance between the protection of both the organisation’s data and that of their employees.
The easy part comes once policies are ready to be implemented. Now that so many forms of communication have gone digital, technology has made employee monitoring easier than ever before. We offer a range of solutions to help secure your IT systems and protect your organisation, including Web security, End Point Security, Archiver and Email Security.
If you would like FREE guidance on implementing policies in your workplace on employee monitoring, please complete this short form and we will email you details, including a sample Internet Usage Policy.
For more information about how we can help your business, contact us to today to arrange a free initial consultation.
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