CCTV Cameras in the Workplace: Employee Rights vs. Business Interests
All small business owners are concerned about protecting their stock or supplies and many have limited resources with which to do this.
You have installed alarms and CCTV surveillance at your premises, having monitored these systems you can tell that no external party has broken into your premises, but you still have missing stock. It must be someone within the organisation. But how can you prove this? Can you use your CCTV footage to determine whether or not this is the case?
If you inform your employees beforehand that you will be using cameras in the workplace then the use of this is permitted however if you wish to use it covertly then this is a delicate balancing exercise between protecting your business’ interests and protecting the Human Rights of the individuals’ who work for you. Luckily the European Court of Human Rights has recently set out guidance on covert surveillance. Where the use of surveillance is being considered by the business, the following considerations should be taken into account by the employer:
1. Whether the employee has been notified of the possibility of video-surveillance measures being adopted by the employer and of the implementation of such measures. While in practice employees may be notified in various ways, depending on the particular factual circumstances of each case, the notification should normally be clear about the nature of the monitoring and be given prior to implementation.
2. The extent of the monitoring by the employer and the degree of intrusion into the employee’s privacy. In this connection, the level of privacy in the area being monitored should be taken into account, together with any limitations in time and space and the number of people who have access to the results.
3. Whether the employer has provided legitimate reasons to justify monitoring and the extent thereof. The more intrusive the monitoring, the weightier the justification that will be required.
4. Whether it would have been possible to set up a monitoring system based on less intrusive methods and measures. In this connection, there should be an assessment in the light of the particular circumstances of each case as to whether the aim pursued by the employer could have been achieved through a lesser degree of interference with the employee’s privacy.
5. The consequences of the monitoring for the employee subjected to it. Account should be taken, in particular, of the use made by the employer of the results of the monitoring and whether such results have been used to achieve the stated aim of the measure.
6. Whether the employee has been provided with appropriate safeguards, especially where the employer’s monitoring operations are of an intrusive nature. Such safeguards may take the form, among others, of the provision of information to the employees concerned or the staff representatives as to the installation and extent of the monitoring, a declaration of such a measure to an independent body or the possibility of making a complaint.
This guidance is helpful to provide employers with a framework to enable their decision making process. Of course each case will be fact specific so employers should consider whether use of covert recordings is appropriate in each circumstance and consider taking advice before implementing any surveillance systems.
We would love to hear your views with regards to the use of CCTV so please get in touch using the form below.