You may have had employees working from home for over a year. Whilst initially this was an immediate reaction to the government’s first lock down in March 2020, home working looks as though it is here to stay for some, whether that be permanent working from home or a hybrid working, splitting time between the office and home. In order to provide an oversight of staff working from home, many companies are using monitoring software to record active work hours and web browsing on both work phones and computers. It is important for everyone to understand the reasons behind any decision to install such software and to understand the impact of monitoring, and for employers to understand what is and is not allowed.
A recent poll of 2,000 full-time employees by Kaspersky found that 46% of those with monitoring software installed admitted to remaining logged into their devices for longer than they needed to be while working remotely. Employees may therefore view such monitoring as the employer not trusting the employee to complete the work, which may result in the employee either working harder through fear of getting into trouble, or staying logged on to look busy. Both of these should be a concern for an employer.
Can I install software to monitor employees?
Software to monitor employees should only be put in place in a proportionate and justified manner. You are allowed to monitor both the websites that employees look at on company devices and their keystrokes, though in both cases employers must inform their employees of any intention to monitor, the reasons why and what is being monitored. It is also imperative that employers ensure there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent any abuse or over-monitoring. It is vital that any monitoring complies with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) so any processing of personal data must have a specific, explicit and legitimate purpose. An example may be that an employer has a legitimate purpose for monitoring employees to safeguard the security of personal data while employees are working from home. Another reason could be the employer needing to ensure an employee is carrying out their responsibilities outlined in their employment contract or to comply with their legal obligations.
Once a purpose is identified, an employer must ensure that any personal data collected is only processed for that purpose. Employers must assess and document the legal grounds and reasoning for data monitoring. This should be recorded via a data protection impact assessment (DIPA).
As you can see, the monitoring of employees is a potentially complex legal framework for employers must navigate. Other less invasive ways could be implemented to keep track of employee productivity without increasing stress and potentially distrust among staff. A simple way of achieving this is for managers to communicate regularly with employees and discuss workloads and work completed, as this also provides the opportunity to identify any potential concerns. It is important to demonstrate to employees they are trusted in order to get the best out of employees. If you require any advice regarding monitoring and the steps to take, please contact advo for further advice.