You do not leave your right to privacy at the door of your workplace. Monitoring and surveillance of employees are now regulated as the law has increasing regard for privacy at work. Data protection is relevant to the information about you which is held by your employer and gives you rights as to how that information is managed.
Privacy at work
Monitoring and surveillance at work can cover a number of activities including:
- CCTV recordings
- opening emails
- examining website and telephone usage
- keystroke logging on computers
- vehicle tracking
There are various laws covering these activities including the Human Rights Act and the Data Protection Act. In addition some activities, such as intercepting emails and telephone calls may be a criminal offence in certain circumstances.
The Data Protection Act 1998 contains 8 principles. These state that personal data shall:
- be obtained and processed lawfully and fairly
- be held for lawful purposes
- be used or disclosed only for lawful or compatible purposes
- be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose for which they are held
- be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
- be held no longer than is necessary for the purpose for which they are held
- be accessible to individuals it concerns, who may, where appropriate correct or erase it
- be surrounded by proper security
These principles have particular application in the context of the employment relationship. Your employer may only process data about you which is necessary for the management of the employment. This will be information obtained for payroll purposes, during appraisals and reviews, in connection with illness absences and so on. The processing of some data, known as sensitive personal data, requires your explicit consent as an employee.
Proper management of data requires that only accurate and up-to-date data about you is retained, that this is kept confidential and that effective security is in place to ensure that it is not accidentally transferred or lost.
You have the right to see the information held about you and to complain to a Court if this is inaccurate or otherwise not in compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998. This information could be used to challenge performance assessments or issues regarding pay and promotion.
Our solicitors can advise you in all areas of data protection compliance.