• The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published new guidance for employers on 3 October 2023 on monitoring workers lawfully, transparently and fairly.

    Although the guidance does not contain anything unexpected or unforeseen, it is worth reviewing as a reminder of how to ensure compliance with data protection legislation.

    Employers may monitor employees in the workplace to carry out checks on the quality and quantity of their work and may also monitor workers to meet regulatory obligations such as those within the financial industry or for Health and Safety considerations. It could include, for example, the use of tracking messages and calls, using productivity tools and camera surveillance.

    Whatever you are monitoring and however you are monitoring you need to make sure that you are complying with data protection requirements.

    It is important to note that the guidance does cover home workers and it is not always easy to distinguish between workplace and private information in this context. Especially with some workplaces utilising a BYOD policy where workers are using their own personal devices for work.

    If an employer monitors employees in an unfair manner then this may negatively impact a worker’s wellbeing, breakdown the trust between employee and employer and may impact on their rights and freedoms under the data protection law.

    The guidance reminds employers that for any monitoring of employees, you must be clear about why you are completing the monitoring and you must choose the least intrusive way of carrying the monitoring out.

    Under data protection law there are six lawful bases to collect and process information. The data gathered through monitoring often includes ‘special category date’ which requires extra protection, and you will be required to identify a special category condition as well as lawful basis.

    A one size fits all will never be appropriate to adopt and the ICO guidance provides some practical steps to take, when monitoring workers. This includes making staff aware of the nature, extent and reasons for monitoring, only keeping the information which is relevant to its purpose and making sure the personal information gathered through monitoring is available to workers if they make a Data Subject Access Request.

    For full guidance, visit: Employment practices and data protection: monitoring workers | ICO

    This content is correct at time of publication

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