The Legitimacy of Staff Tracking And Monitoring

No escaping from tracking and monitoring is what we get on the every-day basis in the XXI century. And we are not only talking about monitoring in the workplace but about personal monitoring. Regardless of the app you are using, you have a guarantee that this way you give some of your sensitive information for different institutions to process. To such information belong your name, address, phone number and even financial data. However, the question is how legitimate monitoring is and does it really violate heavily the EU citizens’ rights?

The content of the monitoring

Employee monitoring is the process of staff surveying by employers with the help of surveillance methods. Organizations track the employees’ performance and analyze all the sources of distraction in the workplace. To the most common surveillance methods belong software monitoring (computers’ tracking), phone monitoring (recording of calls and conversations via the mobile phone), video surveillance (through surveillance cameras), email monitoring, location monitoring, and even key-logging (recording of the keys an employee is typing on the keyboard).

Such methods of tracking as access panels, automatic screen warnings, and attendance and time monitoring are considered positive and legal. However, not all methods of employee monitoring are good. Some of such practices are risky, poor, and borderline which means that they are highly privacy-invasive. For example, to the risky practices belong filters, firewalls, social network monitoring, and clickstream data monitoring. Among the borderline methods are GPS monitoring, physical searches, and email and text messages monitoring. The so-called poor practices are presented by video surveillance, telephone and voicemail monitoring, and desktop and keystroke monitoring.

A need to monitor employees’ activities was caused by the employees themselves. Today, data shows that approximately 80% of the large companies in the USA alone track, collect, and store the personal data of their employees. According to one survey, around 65% of workers waste at least 1 hour at work every day. 14% of employees spend 3 or even more hours a day on stuff unrelated to their work. The statistics are shocking and that is why there is no wonder why employers have to look for the causes of such behavior in the workplace.

Pros and cons

Obviously, employee monitoring has both pros and cons. For example, such a negative side as lower morale appears. Through monitoring employees feel the lack of trust. Moreover, many employees desire more freedom and think about monitoring as an unfair privacy breach. As far as employees feel uncomfortable, they start to question the legality of monitoring in the first place. Many courts have so far faced several legal proceedings concerning the violation of employees’ rights through monitoring. Yet, the courts have supported employers as they have a right to access all the activities happening in their companies. After all, there are no federal laws forbidding monitoring.

Despite all the drawbacks, take for consideration the fact that employers have the opportunity to define how much money they spend “down the drain”. If one employee wastes at least 1 hour a day, the company loses approximately from $10, 000 to $11, 000 every year. With employee monitoring, every executive can avoid such losses. The second benefit of workers’ tracking is that employers receive better insights to their business management. They can define whose performance is low and who deserves a promotion. Another positive side of monitoring is transparency for executives. They stay informed of the latest innovations and news going on inside their company.

The legality side

According to the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Title II, Freedoms, Article 8: “Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning him or her”. (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/HTML/?uri=CELEX:12012P/TXT&from=EN)

Theoretically, the workplace data of the individual also belongs to this category and must be protected from any possible breaches. Moreover, the same Article 8 says: “Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned or some other legitimate basis laid down by law.” This means that only when consent is given the data can be processed or monitored. Thus, in order to conduct the procedure 100% legally, the consent must first be given. Only then the monitoring system for boosting the company’s productivity can be installed.

In order to know what’s going on around the monitoring issues in the EU, one must get acknowledged with the activities of the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). (https://ec.europa.eu/commission/priorities/justice-and-fundamental-rights/data-protection/2018-reform-eu-data-protection-rules_en)

In 2018, the GDPR was finally approved by the EU Parliament. It substitutes the well-known Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. (https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=CELEX%3A31995L0046)

So in the end

Considering all the aforementioned sides of monitoring and EU’s PII protection changes, it is still a more positive than a negative practice. Think for yourself: everyone desires to get the best out of their business or job. Employee tracking makes it possible because both the employer and the employee now have a chance to analyze their productivity and concentrate on the activities that bring the highest profits. The personnel should not treat monitoring as the violation of rules because it is not aimed at their bosses’ total control. What could make the business more profitable if not the elimination of ineffective practices, focusing on the successful strategies, and making the team of professionals understand their strongly and weakly developed skills?

Moreover, with GDPR in place, employees may now feel safe and free from prejudices about monitoring. The regulations set by GDPR show that monitoring is absolutely legal and effective when the consent to track the worker’s activities in the workplace is given. No company violates the rights of its working team by implementing some monitoring methods because the aims of such practices are usually fully explained to the employees.

To sum up, the first and foremost thing that must be done before using monitoring techniques is a clear understanding of this process by both employers and employees. Only then, when all the purposes, rules, and results of tracking are established, a company may finally implement the necessary practices.

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