Employee Monitoring: Does It Violate Privacy Rights?

Employee Monitoring

It is increasingly commonplace for business owners to adopt a variety of staff monitoring techniques for personnel management. With the advent of tools and systems that enable the monitoring of voice mail, computers, and telephones, the number of employers utilising these technologies continues to increase. At the same time, there is an opinion that employee monitoring methods violate the privacy of people in the workplace, since many of them are unaware that they are being observed. In fact, the subject of employee privacy is already contentious and highly debated within the HR management sector. Thus, it has been estimated that over 30 million employees in the United States are being monitored in their offices without their knowledge. Concerns surrounding the privacy rights of employees are understandable. People state that they do not want their conduct, personal activity, or lunches to be tracked and observed, despite the fact that company managers seek to determine how their employees operate. There is currently no law that can protect their privacy in such circumstances. Below, we will explore the most common ways of staff monitoring.

Methods for Monitoring Employees

While employees view monitoring as a breach of their privacy and a source of additional workplace stress, managers of both large and small businesses continue to use it to boost labour productivity, which is linked to business growth and success. The most prevalent and extensively utilised staff monitoring strategies are:

  • Video surveillance
  • Computer surveillance
  • Interception of Active badges

These are simply a few of the tactics employers may take to maintain control over their employees. Each of these circumstances will be discussed further to determine whether or not they breach the privacy of employees.

Video Surveillance

Video surveillance is perhaps one of the most used ways of employee monitoring, which has been utilised for decades. Employers utilise cameras to observe how their employees conduct themselves in the office when no one is looking. Various types of cameras are employed for this purpose. Some are put in obvious locations, while others may be concealed throughout the office. These gadgets are so little that they can be utilised for weeks without the knowledge of the staff. In fact, researchers have determined that more than 40 percent of office workers do not view the use of cameras as a violation of their privacy, as these gadgets may give added security, which is a benefit in and of itself. Employers continue to utilise these gadgets without fear of being accused of violating privacy rights.

Computer Surveillance

Computer monitoring systems can be of numerous types. Video display terminals or VDTs and specialised computer software are the most common. Video display terminals are used to monitor the efficiency of an employee’s work. They assist determine the number of errors an employee makes in a given time period, the quantity and type of tasks completed, the speed of transactions executed by each employee, etc.

In addition to keeping track of staff performance and gaining insight into what an employee does during office hours, software packages aid in the maintenance of personnel records. The increasing prevalence of such programmes in modern times is more evidence that they are very beneficial. Some software applications enable employers to monitor not only the productivity of their employees, but also the websites they visit, the time they spend on them, the actions they take, etc. In addition, these tools assist in determining when employees arrive and depart the office, which is essential when analysing employee performance. Employers who value their time, money, and effort should consider investing in computer monitoring software that prevents data theft and boosts staff productivity. Recent surveys indicate that over sixty percent of employees appreciate this monitoring strategy, although admitting that it occasionally causes them stress.


Wiretapping or telephone tapping is the most common way for monitoring employees. Although many people believe that police officers are the primary users of this strategy, company owners and even government agencies continue to employ it. This technique offers information regarding the duration, destination, kind, and frequency of calls made by an employee within a specified time period. This method is always used to assess the proficiency of personnel in call centres and customer service departments. It aids in determining whether an employee gives clients with accurate and pertinent information regarding the company’s services and products.

Active Awards

Active badges are specific identification cards worn by employees. Each badge contains a unique identification number, allowing for the monitoring of a worker’s daily movements. With the use of infrared sensors installed in the workplace or building, motion data is monitored and regulated. Although this method helps businesses determine the amount of time an employee spends in the workplace and the locations he or she goes daily, the active badges system’s efficacy is still debatable. This is because an employer may leave the badge in the office when leaving or other employees may use it when the employee is absent.


Every type of employee monitoring discussed in the article has advantages and disadvantages. Some of them (such as computer software or video surveillance) are more successful and provide a better understanding of employee performance and productivity, whilst others are less dependable and effective (like active badge system, for example). Nevertheless, each strategy may be seen the one most likely to compromise the privacy of employees. As long as there are no regulations regulating the responsibilities and obligations of both parties (employer and employee) in such circumstances, it is up to the business owner to decide whether or not to use these tactics.