According to a report published on Metro, 2020 saw a huge spike in the implementation of employee surveillance software.
In a YouGov/Skillcast poll of 2,009 companies, 12% said they had brought in remote monitoring, with that number growing to 16% at larger firms, and eight per cent said they were thinking of doing so in the imminent future.
Is secretly monitoring staff illegal?
Whilst the process of monitoring screens is a moral grey area, official Government advice is clear that employers are legally free to monitor workplace technology without the knowledge of staff if they ‘suspect they’re breaking the law’ and ‘letting them know about it would make it hard to detect the crime’.
However, Alexandra Mizzi, Employment Law Specialist at Howard Kennedy, told Metro: “Employers risk claims for discrimination and unfair dismissal if they rely on surveillance data in disciplinary proceedings.”
The practice has also been condemned by various trade bodies such as the TUC, whose own research found that one in seven employees have seen surveillance ramp up while they work from home.
“Worker surveillance tech has taken off during this pandemic as more people have been forced to work from home,” said Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary. “We know many employers are investing in tech to micro-manage workers and automate decisions about who to hire, and who to let go.
“Staff must be properly consulted on the use of surveillance at work and protected from unfair management by algorithm. As we emerge from this crisis, technology must be used to make working lives better – not to rob people of their dignity,” she concluded.