Monitoring is central to the employment relationship. Checks on the quantity and quality of employees' work are normal. But it can also be more intrusive, such as filming staff on CCTV, eavesdropping on their e-mails and phone calls or logging the web sites they visit. A long-delayed code on workplace monitoring was published in June by the Information Commissioner, the UK's privacy watchdog. This warns that employers must not ignore data protection laws or trample over workers' privacy rights in intercepting communications. Companies should ensure that monitoring is justified and inform employees that it is taking place and give reasons for carrying it out. Covert video or audio surveillance will be permissible only where criminal activity or equivalent malpractice is suspected. Prudent employers should implement clear policies on monitoring and use of electronic media in the workplace.
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