Employee monitoring increases amongst remote workers

Employee monitoring

Employee monitoring increases amongst remote workers

Employee monitoring has become increasingly popular amongst UK employers since the beginning of the pandemic in March. One in five employers are now monitoring or are planning to monitor their employees who are working from home. This comes after an increase in remote working due to COVID19. Employers are finding it much harder to observe employees’ activity, productivity and efficiency whilst working remotely. As a result, many are resorting to employee monitoring practices. However, employers should be aware that failure to be transparent with employees about surveillance could result in loss of trust or breaking of the law.

 

The introduction of monitoring software may come as a surprise to many. There is evidence to suggest employees are more engaged and loyal now, compared to the start of the pandemic. Forty-six per cent of employers in a survey said that loyalty had increased, with staff less likely to leave the company. However, employers have lost the ability to check on teams face-to-face or monitor them in person. So are resorting to other tactics.

What can employee monitoring track?

  • Time spent online
  • How long tasks have taken to be completed
  • Screen contents and keystrokes
  • Email content
  • Phone conversations
  • Idle time

 

Legalities of Employee Monitoring

Employers must tell their employees if they are going to begin monitoring them and a policy should be in place which accessible to all. Employers should ensure that all employees have read and understood the policy. The policy should cover:

 

  • The nature and extent of the monitoring process
  • The reason for employee monitoring
  • The impact the monitoring will have on the business
  • How confidential or sensitive information is handled
  • Highlighting unacceptable and acceptable uses of the surveillance

In addition, employers may need to make adjustments to other policies that they have. This includes policies around email, internet and social media, data protection and disciplinary and grievance policies (if monitoring could result in an employee facing a disciplinary action).

 

There are laws that employers must follow when implementing surveillance, such as the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Employment Practices Data Protection Code. It is important that you are familiar with these laws and stay compliant. Failure to do so could result in costly legal claims.

The Data Protection Act 2018 states

  • Monitoring must be lawful, fair and transparent
  • The purpose of the monitoring must be specified, explicit and legitimate
  • If employee monitoring involves collecting or using personal information, the data collected must be adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • The personal data must be accurate and kept up to date
  • If personal data is collected, it should not be kept for longer than necessary
  • Information gathered through monitoring should be kept secure.

 

Employee monitoring has the risk of doing more harm than good. Not only may you face legal issues in relation to this surveillance, but it can also affect relationships with your workforce. Furthermore, the monitoring may not even be effective at gauging performance if the measures you have in place are not relevant.

Drawbacks of employee monitoring

  • Negatively impact productivity
  • Reduce engagement and motivation
  • Creates a workplace culture of distrust
  • Erodes employee morale
  • Risk of losing goodwill
  • Sends a message to employees that their commitment is questionable
  • Personal privacy becomes threatened

Whilst many are against this type of surveillance, it does have some benefits for employers.

  • They’re able to understand employee behaviour
  • Anonymised insight on employees
  • Allows them to identify resourcing or training challenges ahead of time
  • They are able to identify those who are taking advantage of home working

 

Overall transparency is key throughout this process. You should be honest and open about employee monitoring taking place. A careful balancing act is required between employer’s interest and the employee’s right to data protection. It can be successful if carried out correctly and for the right reasons.

 

At HPC our team of professional HR consultants can provide guidance if you are considering implementing employee monitoring within your company. They are experts in employment law so can provide advice on the legalities of employee monitoring to ensure that you do not face employment tribunal claims.

 

If you have any concerns or would like to discuss employee monitoring further, please get in contact with the HPC team today.

 

T: 0844 800 5932

E: contact@highperformanceconsultancy.com

Twitter: @HPC_HRServices

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