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Employee Tracking, Screenshots And The Law

Employee monitoring is when employers observe employees’ activities to ensure security, productivity, and proper use of company resources. Technology has come a long way with employee tracking methods including screenshots, keystroke logging , GPS and more.

The benefit of monitoring is clear for enterprises, but it gives rise to serious legal and ethical issues. Today, I will discuss different types of monitoring that can be implemented as well as the federal workplace privacy laws related to this matter. So, let’s get started! 

What is Employee Monitoring?

Employee monitoring is the use of various methods of workplace surveillance to gather information about the activities and locations of employees. This could mean recording the target’s internet, phone and email behaviour or recruiting more pervasive spyware to penetrate physical hardware such as computers, phones.

That way, you can make sure employees are getting stuff done, that company data remains secure, and that employees meet company policies. To be clear, monitoring is legal in the U.S., but it has to remain within federal and state laws. 

The Reasons for Monitoring Employee

There are several reasons why employers engage in employee monitoring. First, it helps in boosting productivity. Time tracking is essential for achieving the core objectives. Because it helps in identifying unproductive employee behavior and giving companies in determining strategies.

Monitoring your cybersecurity is the second reason. As cyber-attacks continue to threaten business, it is becoming even more critical for businesses. It may help find any invalid or strange activity that is indicative of a security violation.

Thirdly, it helps in ensuring your safety and compliance. In industries where safety is important like manufacturing or transportation, you can prevent accidents from happening. Also the employees are following safety measures built by the company.

Finally, monitoring can serve as evidence for legal protection.  In disputes, employers can use monitoring data as evidence.

What Are The Types of Employee Monitoring?

There are different types of employee monitoring approaches each having a variety of tools and techniques.

● Internet and Email Monitoring:

Employers have the right to check their internet use and read onsite email accounts as they reserve the privilege of accessing such subjects.

● Phone Monitoring:

Listening in and logging phone conversations, as well as details about the calls. It’s a common practice for quality control reasons and to make sure that all comments are in compliance with company policy.

● Video Surveillance:

Cameras at publicly accessible areas of the area can also capture theft, help display employees’ conduct, and promote safety. But they should not place them in private areas like restrooms.

● GPS Tracking:

If your workers work off-site or travel often for their job, GPS tracking ensures they are where they need to be. It also makes sure they are following assigned routes.

● Keystroke Logging and Screen Capturing:

These include recording each stroke made on a computer’s keyboard, as well as shooting screenshots at regular intervals. Sometimes it can give a poor quality overview on how an employee is using his or her computer.

Federal Workplace Privacy and Employee Monitoring Laws

A federal agency can monitor employees’ activities because no federal law strictly governs employer surveillance.  Federal laws regulate employee monitoring, balancing privacy with productivity and security concerns.

● Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA):

This is the most important and relevant law concerning employee monitoring. A rule generally forbids intercepting electronic communications, with limited exceptions. But this is not to say there are no exceptions. An employer can access an employees’ emails, instant messages and any communication for a valid business purpose if the employee consents.

● Stored Communications Act (SCA):

The SCA, part of the ECPA, allows employers to view stored emails on company systems. Employers need permission from employees to access blocked personal emails or social accounts.

● Video Privacy Protection Act:

Unrecognized video surveillance does not prevent unauthorized viewing of the content. Recording employees in public areas is allowed, but recording them in private places like restrooms or locker rooms would be unlawful under the VPPA. Employees must be notified that surveillance cameras are in place.

● FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act):

Although this is not related to monitoring software, the FLSA mandates that employers keep records of hours worked by employees. Employers can use monitoring software that records time and attendance to ensure they are meeting requirements. 

Final Words

While employee tracking presents challenges and could negatively affect employees, it can provide significant advantages to businesses. You should use softwares like Controlio. It increases productivity to ensure security and compliance with several regulations. Companies can defend their interests and ensure fair treatment by adopting transparent and equitable monitoring practices.

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