You’ve probably accidentally given your boss the right to spy on you.
It’s ethically questionable but absolutely legal for your boss to spy on you. Without even knowing it, you’ve probably given them consent to do it. From viewing your webcam to recording every website you visit or tracking your work phone’s location.
Renowned legaltech expert Flinn Dolman from Lawhive offers guidance on how it happens and what you can do about it.
It’s Weird but Legal
Although the methods we’re going to outline sound very concerning, many workplace surveillance methods are legal when employers follow specific conditions, such as obtaining consent. However, most employees might be surprised to find they’ve already given consent when joining the organisation.
According to the employment law act UK GDPR Article 6(1) employer’s will argue they have a legitimate interest in what you’re doing with work equipment during working hours and for this reason employment contracts will usually tie monitoring clauses to the use of equipment.
Flinn advises “Open your employment contract today and have a quick read of the details.”
So, How Is Your Boss Spying on You at Work Setting?
It used to be very easy for your boss to walk past your desk and see you scrolling on Instagram. But it’s 2023, how do employers track remote employees?
Here’s a closer look at the most modern methods, the technologies that enable them and what you can do to prevent your privacy from being comprised:
Computer and Internet Usage:
Keyloggers: Keyloggers record every keystroke made on company-provided devices. This can reveal everything from emails to passwords.
Web Monitoring Software: Employers often deploy software that logs websites visited and applications used during work hours on company devices.
Solution: Always switch to Incognito mode for your personal browsing needs.
Email Content Scanners: Employers use scanning tools to search for keywords or flag inappropriate content in company emails.
Email Archiving Tools: Most companies archive all email communications sent through company email accounts.
Solution: Keep personal emails separate from your work account and personal events out of your work calendar.
Webcams on Company Devices: Employers might enable webcams on company laptops to ensure remote employees are present and working during scheduled hours.
Mobile Device Tracking: If you’re using a company-provided mobile phone, your employer may employ GPS tracking to confirm your location during work hours.
Solution: Always disable, disconnect or tape over your webcam in-between calls and leave your phone at home if you decide to pop out for an extended break.
What can I do about it?
1. Check your contract. Your employer has to demonstrate they have a legitimate interest to monitor and clauses facilitating monitoring are normally tied to company equipment.
2. Insist on using your own laptop, desktop or mobile phone. This works from both a practical and legal perspective
3. If you are using a company device, check the software installed. If you find any of these tools installed, it might be time to speak to HR or look for another job – we created a handy infographic listing the most popular software monitoring tools.
4. Our solicitors have created three draft emails you can send to your employer here asking to review the monitoring policies here.
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