Workplace privacy can diminish while there is an increasing number of phones, watches, laptops, vehicles and other technology provided to staff. Many of which have the capacity to track an individual’s location or usage of the technology.
This raises many issues.
Can your phone be used to track your location to confirm how long you really spent at a client meeting or if you really lay in bed all day on a sick day? Can your online activities be tracked to see how much of your day was spent on Facebook?
In New South Wales there are only three ways in which your employer can legally surveil you:
1. Where you agree to it
But only where the agreed surveillance is used for a purpose other than monitoring employees. For example retail workers might agree to have cameras located within a store for the purposes of store security.
2. Where they notify you
The employer must state precisely what monitoring steps are to be taken. As well as when, where and for how long the monitoring will continue. This does not give free reign to employers, and even if notice is given, employers must still comply with various minimum standards including:
- Signage must be used where camera surveillance is being conducted.
- Vehicles or other ‘things’ must be marked where they are being used to monitor the location of employees. This doesn’t mean every phone or device with location services needs to be marked, as long as the employer does not have access to that location data.
- Surveillance of any kind cannot occur when an employee is not at work.
- Monitoring of internet or computer use can only be conducted in accordance with a workplace policy.
3. By application to the Local Court
In certain extreme cases an employer might be granted an exemption by the Local Court to undertake ‘covert’ surveillance where they have reasonable grounds to believe that an employee is engaged in some illegal activity whilst at work.
JFMLAW are experienced in all aspects of workplace law, including workplace privacy and surveillance. If you are concerned that your employer is monitoring you in a way that breaches your privacy, call 02 9331 0266 for a free initial phone conversation with one of our workplace lawyers.
John Morrissey has been a practising Sydney solicitor for 30 years, and for the past 20 a sole practitioner and the principal at JFMLAW.
His main focus employment law, advising small to medium-sized firms and their employees of their rights and obligations.
For many years he was a lecturer at UTS to students obtaining Masters in Human Resources Management with a focus on performance management and creating a culture of delivery in workplaces. John has acted for a significant number of employers, not only in developing a performance based culture in the workplace but also solving particular problems that arise relating to unfair dismissal, contract disputes, improper use of intellectual property or other property as well as enforcements of restraints of trade.
John is very happy to speak to any employer who has an issue on a free of charge basis by a phone call. Please feel free to ring John at anytime up to 6pm most days.
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