Is Employee Monitoring Legal?

Over the years, incidents of inside thefts and frauds in many well-known companies, the monitoring of employees is now under consideration. Although it is not a common practice to use employee monitoring program but now questions arises about its legal status. Well, as far as United States is concerned, it is legal to monitor employees.

What does Act of Electronic Communication Privacy says?

The 1986 act of Electronic Communications Privacy prohibits any unfair interception of electronic communication but it has an exemption for service providers.

Neither is it legal to monitor employees nor there is no such requirement to notify the employees that they under surveillance, in the federal US law. However, notifying an employee that you are under constant monitoring can easily help to deter frauds and crimes.

The increase in the chances of the punishment acts as a better deterrent as compared to the severity of the punishment, Valerie Wright, a research analyst, said that.

US Courts initiative on employee monitoring

However, the US courts have attempted to adjust a worker’s “sensible desire of security” against business defense for checking.

The courts usually go with the point of view that if the employee is using the equipment’s and networks provided by the employer then their privacy expectations should minimal. They should use their own computers and free time to enjoy their privacy.

  • Almost 80% of the companies are actively monitoring their employees
  • Now while in the past only about 35% of companies were doing so

It is all about the fear of thefts and frauds but on the other hand due to inappropriate behavior of the employees at the work place, like sexually harassing the colleagues.

Moreover, employee monitoring provides data that employer can use as forensic in the courts. It works as a legal liability because the offices are usually designed as shared places.

So, if someone views any offensive material on his/her computer, it seems as quite a violent act. Also, in regulated companies electronic recording is also done to maintain the workplace environment having the work records as a part of company’s diligence plan.

 So the presence of fishy material taped on an employee’s computer makes person to face legal charges. And as you know that the breaching of any kind of data can result in a loss of millions of dollars to a company, so protecting such stuff is vital for a company.

So, the usage of electronic monitoring puts a company in a very better position to do so.

Bottom Line:

We have come to the point having above discussion, that if your company does not use any such program, use it for company’s better progress. It is the right time to put it in your company’s policy manual as it would serve multiple purposes.

Either it will help out to deter frauds or it helps to ensure that the employees adhere to the company policy creating a healthier working environment. However, if your company is not in US then it is also advised that you can check the law of your state or country before the installation of any monitoring program in your company.

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