Article 8 of the Human Rights Act 1998 provides that all individuals have the right to respect for private and family life. Therefore, would video surveillance of lecture theatres violate a university professor’s right to privacy?
This issue was recently highlighted in the case of Antovic & Mirkovic v Montenegro, in which the Dean of the School of Mathematics installed video cameras into the public lecture hall at a Montenegro university, suggesting it was to “protect safety of property, people and students.” However, this surveillance also recorded lectures.
The recorded data was protected by codes that only the Dean had access to. Following this complaint, the Personal Data Protection Agency ordered the removal of this surveillance on the grounds that there was no evidence to say safety was an issue and therefore, there was no legitimate reason for data collection. The Domestic court held that Article 8 had not been violated in the first instance.
However, by four votes to three, the European Court held that Article 8 had been breached, arguing that although the university is a public sphere, private life encompasses business and professional activities.
Monitoring employees at work
There are a number of reasons that employers may wish to monitor their employees at work. The Data Protection Act does not restrict employers to do this, however, it is important that employers remember that employees are entitled to some degree of privacy in the workplace.
Should an employer wish to monitor his employees, they should be informed prior and told about any monitoring arrangements and the reason behind it.
Key aspects to monitoring employees
Common methods used for monitoring
Should an employer wish to install CCTV to monitor employees, all staff should be made aware of this. For example, there should be signs on display stating where the cameras are placed. In addition, employees should be informed why they are now being monitored.
Signs should be:
The Data Protection Act states that if an employer provides a specific reason for the surveillance, for example to stop theft, then the employer cannot use the footage for any other reason.
If an employer wishes to conduct bag searches, there must be a policy in place alerting employees that bags and purses will be subject to searches. Again, there should be a legitimate reason to justify these searches.
Covert monitoring is defined as “monitoring that is deliberately carried out in secret, without the knowledge of the staff being monitored.” This form of monitoring can be extremely difficult for an employer to justify. This form of investigation should be conducted as quickly as possible and only carried out as part of a specific investigation. When the investigation ends, so should the monitoring.
Employment Law Support for Employers
If you require employment law advice on workplace policies or any other employment issue give us a call today on 0370 218 5662.