Monitoring employees

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Updated: 4/11/2007 10:26 am Published: 4/11/2007 10:26 am

Technological advances have made it possible for employers to monitor many aspects of their employees' jobs, especially in the area of electronic communications. This means that your employer can listen, watch, and read most of what takes place on company telephones, computer terminals, e-mail, and voicemail. Employers may have a legitimate interest in monitoring their employees to supervise performance and productivity or to investigate illegal activities. Whatever the reason employers have for monitoring their employees, as long as it's business related, is legal under federal law. However, if companies choose to engage in employee monitoring, they are subject to certain limits under the federal Electronic Communications Privacy Act. For example, video surveillance can't extend into highly private areas in the workplace, such as restrooms and lounges, or continue once an employee leaves the workplace. Any type of telephone monitoring must also stop as soon as a particular call has been identified as personal in nature. The Act also requires that companies inform their employees that they may be subject to electronic monitoring and surveillance. Policies should be posted and distributed to all employees and should clearly show how, when, and why their work will be monitored. It may be necessary to have employees sign the policy to indicate their understanding and consent. Employers should also give feedback to employees on any evidence collected during monitoring and avoid disclosing any personal data to others without the employee's consent.

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