How to Start Monitoring Employees Legally

Are you thinking about starting to use employee monitoring tools to increase security and productivity – but aren’t sure how legal it is? The fact of the matter is that it does raise several privacy issues, which is why you need to know how to use monitoring tools legally.

“What Does the Law Say?”

The law governing employee monitoring differs in different jurisdictions. In the United States the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) allows employers to monitor their employees without disclosure.

On the other hand in the European Union the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) stipulates that you can monitor employees legally as long as you inform them, obtain their consent, and protect the data that you collect. It should be noted that the GDPR not only applies to EU-based companies, but also other companies that have employees in the EU.

Aside from that data privacy and electronic communication laws in various other countries are similar to either of the two cases above. In short employee monitoring can absolutely be carried out legally – as long as you ensure that it follows the letter of the law in your jurisdiction.

Monitor While Respecting Privacy

As a rule, the best option is to respect your employees and their privacy when you start monitoring them. Even if you happen to be in a jurisdiction that gives you a lot of leeway – respecting the privacy of your employees can help build trust and avoid issues down the line.

Because of that, if you intend to use employee monitoring software you should:

  • Come Up With A Detailed Policy And Obtain Consent

Although by law you may not have to obtain consent, it is always a good idea to do so. But first you should come up with a detailed policy that outlines how employees will be monitored, what data will be captured, and explains why.

For example you can show how WorkExaminer will be used to track apps that are used, measure active or idle time, and determine how productive teams are. That way employees will know it is being used for team behavior analytics to improve productivity.

  • Comply With Legal Requirements

Be sure you are aware and comply with the legal requirements in your jurisdiction. For example if you’re in the EU then the GDPR may not allow you to use WorkExaminer to capture keystrokes.

  • Only Track Data That You Need

Tools like WorkExaminer can track a wide range of data, including online activity, emails, messaging apps, and so on. However just because you can track all that data legally (depending on which jurisdiction you’re in) – it does not mean that you should.

Ideally you should only use monitoring tools to capture data that you need to fulfill your goals – and not data that should be private. That way you shouldn’t run into too many issues.

  • Give Employees Access to their Own Data

Arguably the best way to prove to employees that you aren’t violating their privacy is to let them see the data you’ve captured for themselves. In WorkExaminer it is easy enough to give users different levels of access and set up profiles to allow employees to view their own data.

As an additional benefit letting your employees view their own reports on WorkExaminer will give them insights into their own productivity.

By this point you should have a good idea about the ins and outs of legally using employee monitoring software. As you can see there’s no problem implementing it legally – as long as you are familiar with the law requirements in your jurisdiction and make sure you follow them.

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