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Can Employers Monitor Home-Based Staff Legitimately and Legally?

View profile for Catherine Almeida
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As workplaces across the country are settling into new ways of operating, many colleagues and employees are combining home-based and office-based working. While some employers are relaxed about this, there are considerations to be made around things like keeping sensitive data secure and managing health and safety risks.

So, we are seeing a rise in the number of employers opting to monitor staff use of email, internet, computer software and their physical activity. This can be done via numerous methods such as software that monitors keystroke activity, location tracking, etc. Monitoring may be put in place to mitigate the risk of an employer being vicariously liable for any accident or other legal liabilities sustained during the course of the working day and to monitor whether the individual is working. Monitoring workers is legal in the UK, but there are things employers should take into account before pressing ahead with these activities.

  • The quality of an employer’s relationship with employees should be protected
  • There are GDPR and Human Rights Act considerations that should be navigated carefully
  • Any data collected through workplace monitoring amounts to the processing of personal data so it must be handled in a fair, lawful, transparent way and only for specific legal purposes. Be aware that getting an employee’s permission to collect this data is unlikely to be enough, from a GDPR standpoint
  • Employers must carry out a Data Protection Impact Assessment (DPIA) to establish if the monitoring they plan is necessary and proportionate
  • Employers must let staff know they’re being monitored and why, how any data might be used and by who
  • Employers must identify a specific and legitimate aim that justifies the monitoring  and any interference in the private life of employees must be no more than is necessary to achieve this aim
  • It is wise for an employer who is planning to go down the route of staff monitoring to provide each team member with a clear, detailed workplace policy at the beginning of their employment, or long before any changes to operations are made

This is a complex area of law and since the makeup of the workplace is shifting all the time it is important to seek tailored advice. Contact Catherine on: 02920 225472 or