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You want to keep an eye on your employees, but when does monitoring the workplace become invading their privacy? Generally speaking, employers have a good deal of leeway for when it comes to keeping tabs on employee conduct and communication, but there are legal limits to what they can watch and the kind of speech supervisors can restrain.
Here are several of the biggest concerns employers face when monitoring employee behavior:
Yes, but there are limits. Employers can generally keep an eye on employee communications and conduct in the workplace, if it is within the normal course of business and the surveillance is used for a legitimate business purpose.
Employers can install cameras in places where employees and customers have little or no expectation of privacy -- restrooms are not those areas. Also, cameras must be limited to video recording only -- no audio.
As a legal baseline, employees have no privacy rights in their emails at work. This means if employees are using their employer's computer system, the employer can monitor their email use, so long as employees are given prior notice and there is a legitimate business reason for the surveillance.
Now you're getting a little more personal, but employers may still have the right to monitor employees' cell phones, especially if the phones are company-owned or there is a written policy in place advising employees on potential monitoring.
If your small business is interested in playing big brother, you better get it right. A certain level of employee supervision and review is essential, but too much can be illegal.