There’s no definitive answer to this question as countries have different laws and regulations relating to employee control and workplace privacy.
In most countries monitoring of work devices is completely legal. Yet, in some you need consent while in others you can monitor emails but not keystrokes, and so on. The legality of the extent of employee tracking depends on your local, state or federal laws.
The computer monitoring software industry is expanding at a fast pace, and if you’re looking to monitor your employees you should know a few things.
In this article, we’ll try to explore the best practices from several countries to help answer this question.
Disclaimer: This article provides general information and it’s not to be used as legal advice. Please contact your legal team for more information about specific regulations.
Employee Surveillance in the US
Generally speaking, companies are allowed to monitor company equipment. However, they are not allowed to track personal emails.
Since the laws in the United States vary by state, some of them require the employer to notify workers about the user tracking software beforehand, while in others it is completely legal for companies to track employees without consent.
In the US, courts often found that expectation of privacy at work is limited while they’re on the job. But employees are given some protection from electronic monitoring, under certain circumstances, such as union contracts.
Some states in the US require companies to notify the workers about the user activity monitoring, while that’s unnecessary in some others.
Employee Tracking in the EU
European Union doesn’t have specific regulations related to employee monitoring, so for reference, most companies are using the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
GDPR requires data subjects (in this case employees) to provide their consent before the monitoring starts. However, employers are also able to track employees based on legitimate interest, if they perform a legitimate interest assessment and have justified reasons to process data without consent.
GDPR also requires employers to perform a Privacy Impact Assessment before implementing the software, in order to determine needs and challenges that could arise once the corporate computer monitoring software is installed.
Employee Monitoring and Surveillance in Australia
Australian federal and state laws make employee surveillance and privacy a bit complicated… Although, in most cases, the boss is usually permitted to install a computer software to monitor activity on the computers they provide for the purposes of work. Additionally, workers must be notified they’ll be monitored, in simple clear language, no less than 14 days prior to installation/activation.
Can you Monitoring Employees in the Workplace in India?
According to Indian Employment and Labour Law, the employer has the right to monitor employee activities, systems, premises, company emails, SIM cards, headsets and computers. The basis for the monitoring is safeguarding of company’s confidential and proprietary information.
In order to notify employees, the organization can create Policies which would describe such activities. If the monitoring goes beyond company premises, or is found to be a violation of employees’ right to privacy, the organization might have to justify monitoring.
Is Employee Tracking Legal in Canada?
Canadian laws about privacy in the workplace are clear. Employers should tell workers what personal data will be collected, used and disclosed. All workers should be notified about policies about web, email and telephone use. And they also must be notified if they’re a subject to random or continuous employee surveillance.
Employers shouldn’t collect, use and disclose employee data about pay and benefits, formal and informal personnel files, video or audio tapes, and records of web-browsing, electronic mail, and keystrokes without employees knowledge or consent.
Can You Monitor Employee Computers in Nigeria?
Currently, Nigeria doesn’t have specific and comprehensive data privacy and protection laws. Generally, employers should get a consent from employees before they use and store personal information.
When it comes to making sure employees are following company policies and any laws, or regulations, employers are allowed to use computer monitoring software. However, it is advisable that workers are informed of the monitoring.
Employee Monitoring in Russia
In Russia, employers mustn’t monitor phone conversations, but they are allowed to monitor time of the calls, and phone numbers of participants. When it comes to monitoring corporate devices, this is allowed, but employees must be notified about corporate tracking software, as well as advised only to use these devices for business purposes.
Internal documents and policies allow companies to monitor workers in Russia, but the monitoring mustn’t be a breach to employees’ privacy.
Worker Monitoring in UAE
The law in the United Arab Emirates allows employers to monitor company’s property, including: computers, phones, other electronic devices, email content, keystrokes, etc. However, employees must be fully aware of the practices, and they need to give prior consent.
UAE Federal Laws protect employees, since they have a right to personal privacy, and if they don’t agree with processing of personal and sensitive data, then the employer can’t monitor them.
Staff Monitoring in Malaysia
If the work equipment belongs to the company, the employer has every right to monitor employees emails, phone calls, and general use of equipment provided for work purposes.
Based on the Notice and Choice Principle the employer must issue a written notice in English and Malay to inform the employees about employee tracking, more precisely which personal data is being collected, why, how long will it be kept, etc.
Employee Monitoring in Finland
Finland has the strictest laws and policies regarding data protection, as well as employee-employer relationship. The companies have a very limited right to monitor emails, calls and computer usage, as these are protected under the privacy of communication.
Employers can, however, issue a regulation or guidance on best practices for the usage of company equipment.