ICO issues new guidance on employee monitoring

The ICO has today updated its guidance on employee monitoring to reflect new types of work, working from home, and the use of more and more sophisticated technologies for monitoring.

The ICO defines ‘monitoring workers’ as any form of monitoring of people who carry out work on an organisation’s behalf. The ICO says that workers’ expectations of privacy are significantly higher at home or outside the workplace, and this should be reflected in any Data Protection Impact Assessment.

Monitoring can include tracking calls, messages and keystrokes, taking screenshots, webcam footage or audio recordings, or using specialist monitoring software to track activity.

Employers who use automated decision-making for monitoring must inform workers of this technology. Organisations must give workers “meaningful information about the logic involved, as well as the significance and the envisaged consequences” of the processing. This information must also be included if employees submit Subject Access Requests.

If organisations are relying on biometric data for workspace access, they should provide an alternative for those who do not want to use biometric access controls, such as swipe cards or PIN numbers, the ICO says.

Emily Keaney, Deputy Commissioner - Regulatory Policy at the Information Commissioner’s Office, said:

“While data protection law does not prevent monitoring, our guidance is clear that it must be necessary, proportionate and respect the rights and freedoms of workers. We will take action if we believe people’s privacy is being threatened.”

New research carried out by the ICO reveals that 70% of the public would find it intrusive to be monitored by an employer in any way. Monitoring personal devices is considered the most intrusive practice at 83%, followed by recording audio and video (78%) and taking screenshots or webcam footage (77%). Monitoring timekeeping and access is considered the least intrusive practice, with 47% finding it intrusive.

As well as outlining legal requirements, the ICO’s guidance also includes good practice advice to help employers build trust with their workers and respect their rights to privacy.

The survey is based on interviews with1,012 UK adults aged 18+ between 1-3 August.

See: The Employment practices and data protection − Monitoring workers guidance

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Sponsored and hosted by Lewis Silkin London at their new offices at The Arbor, 25 Blackfriars Road, in association with Privacy Laws & Business. Express your interest in this event at info@privacylaws.com.