There are many reasons why an employer may want to implement a surveillance system in the workplace. Sometimes they want to prevent theft or check that employees are not tampering with the time recording system.
When an employer implements a video surveillance system of employees, he/she is likely to collect a lot of personal data of the employees through the video recordings.
Employee surveillance can seriously infringe on the privacy and personality of employees. Moreover, employees can quickly feel spied on or pressured, which can affect their mental health. The employer is obliged to respect strict conditions and procedures before implementing such a system.
The surveillance system must meet an objective need of the employer, such as security or prevention of theft or accidents. Surveillance set up to monitor the behavior of employees at their workstations is prohibited.
Installation of video surveillance pointed on the face or the workstation of employees: certain surveillance systems seriously infringe on the privacy of the employee. The employer must have an important objective reason to justify such surveillance of the employee. Otherwise, the system will be disproportionate and the employer will be liable.
When a video surveillance system is set up, employees often feel spied upon or pressured, especially when the cameras are pointed at a place where employees regularly pass by. However, the employer sometimes has valid reasons to install cameras in sensitive areas of the company such as cash registers or bank counters.
A balance must be found. The employer must ensure that the employee's privacy is minimized.
Out of sight, out of mind? When an employee works from home, the employer's ability to monitor the employee's work and schedule is more limited. Invasive surveillance systems such as webcam video surveillance will often be unlawful. The employer will need to use systems that are less intrusive on the employee's privacy.
In all situations, the employer must ensure that the personal data of his/her employees is protected. The employer must take appropriate measures to ensure the confidentiality of data such as video recordings. He/she must destroy this data after a certain period of time.
When video surveillance in the workplace reveals infractions or abuses on the part of an employee, the employer may take sanctions against him/her, provided that the surveillance he/she has put in place is lawful. These sanctions can range from a simple warning to termination with immediate effect.
In any case, it is recommended that the employer issues a written directive on surveillance in the workplace.