Privacy in the workplace
Have you heard of arecent incident of a man who made nearly $3 million in less than two years by filing tax returns for other people?
He was able to achieve that simply by obtaining people’s information from companies who were more than willing to give it to him in exchange for money.
The advent of technology (email and the Internet) has allowed companies to immensely reduce operating costs, speed up most tasks and increase their efficiency. (Allowed companies to immensely reduce operating costs through automation of human tasks, facilitate communication on innumerable levels, clearly increase efficiency in almost all tasks, allow for geographic and other business expansion, and less obviously, even reduced the amount of real estate and inventory that companies require)
Among one of the advancements has been an explosion in technology designed to aid employers in monitoring their employees…. It has helped them easily review the workers’ conduct and performance and to ensure that none of their confidential information are being leaked out into public.
While this technology can be lauded for the ways in which it has helped business, it also raises a concern that previously did not exist.
The issue is that employees come to work with an expectation of a certain degree of privacy and most of the time they are not aware that the company has the right to monitor their every move.
The reality is that while at work, except in the company restroom or locker room they have no legal privacy rights.
Their expectation of privacy have unfortunately not yet caught up with all the forms of technology that are out there and can be used in a workplace
A majority of employers monitor their employees. They are motivated by concern over litigation and the increasing role that electronic evidence plays in lawsuits and government agency investigations. In fact it has been stated that Invading Your Privacy is “Now the Norm in the Workplace”.
It was found that at least 1/5 of companies surveyed by the American Management Association in 1999 did not tell their employees when they were being watched.
The company may record all their phone calls and computer usage, which includes their email communications and all clickstream data from internet browsing. And most of the time employees are not aware of it…… they have a false impression of privacy….. where there is none.
The employer should do a better job at informing employees of the monitoring policies that are in progress.
They should do that both in writing and verbally
The notice should be as specific as possible by including what types of monitoring will be used, how frequently monitoring will occur, and what purpose the employer hopes to accomplish through the monitoring.
In addition to that they should also have “pop-up” warnings that appear during employees’ computer usage which warn them of the lack of privacy.
Such protocol will help workers understand the risks involved.
And will help the company avoid any lawsuits for privacy violations.