Are you Being Watched?

One of the major factors affecting productivity in today’s business environment is personal internet and computer usage, costing businesses both valuable time and money. In light of this, more and more employers are coming too close or even breaking the law in relation to workplace surveillance and it is important that they are aware of their obligations under privacy and surveillance legislation before it is too late.

The most common form of workplace surveillance is email and internet monitoring and most businesses do not realise that they have to follow specific guidelines in relation to carrying out these processes. The NSW Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 requires employers to provide employees with 14 day written notice before they can carry out any surveillance or monitoring.

The increasing range, capabilities and cost effectiveness of surveillance software makes it easy for employers to track personal use of the internet on work computers. In other words, with technology becoming increasingly sophisticated and accessible more technology-neutral legislation is needed in order to capture any further technological advances in this area.

At present, while Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory have legislation regulating video or visual surveillance of private activities, NSW is the only state that has legislation that specifically covers surveillance within the workplace. However, the existing NSW legislation on workplace surveillance is regarded by many as obsolete and many are calling for new legislation. The Act prohibits all forms of video surveillance in areas such as change rooms, toilets, and showers, and prohibits covert surveillance unless the employer has obtained a magistrate’s warrant. General video surveillance, however, remains largely untouched by the Act.

Increasingly we are seeing employers inadvertently breaking the law in relation to workplace surveillance as they are not correctly informed of their rights and obligations under the Act.

If you would like further information in relation to your workplace surveillance rights and responsibilities or perhaps you would like help to introduce workplace surveillance policies into your workplace contact at the lawyers at The Quinn Group on 1300 QUINNS or click here to submit an online enquiry form.