2015-12-22Introduction: For the effective functioning of organizations the employers are allowed to collect and use employee information. However it is very clearly laid down in the law there should not be any case of harassment or element of vindictiveness. The employer is permitted to collect only data which is relevant to the occasion. It should be justified by appropriate use. The employer has certain responsibilities thrust on him by the law as far as collection and usage of data is concerned including information collected from third parties. Ways of monitoring employees: There are a number of ways in which employee behavior can be monitored. Normally every organization installs and uses CCTV for crime detection. This can also be used to detect crimes committed by employees too. The most common form of security breaches in organizations happen through data leakage by emails. The employer is well within his right to install email scans so that this area of leakage gets plugged. Certain measures taken by the organization to protect its own assets are always permissible under the law of the land. A balance should be maintained: Monitoring and intrusion usually go hand in hand. The employer should just see to it that the balance is maintained and no infringement of privacy rights take place. Every employee has a right to privacy and that is granted to him by the law. There is no way that the employer can be above the law. The employee’s statutory right to privacy cannot be infringed upon by anybody. It is only the law makers who have the right to seek such private information and it is only under their directives that the employer can collect and divulge the same. Employees too have a right to know: There is a legal provision which allows the employee the right to know that he or she is being monitored by his employer. The employer is bound to give adequate notice (except under exceptional circumstances) to the employee and keep him/her in the loop. It is always expected of the employer to ensure that boards are erected to the effect that CCTV monitoring is in place in areas covered by these CCTV cameras. The employer could also every now and then send emails to the employee about the computer activity. This could put the employee on notice that these activities are being watched and hence he should be careful. Documentation of the policy is very important: It is the duty of the employer to ensure that proper documentation is done as far as framing the monitoring policy is concerned. The documents should clearly list out what the employee can do and what he is not supposed to do. The employer too should ensure that he maintains his side of the contract before expecting the employee to maintain theirs. The employer should also see to it that no excesses are committed from his side. Bringing this out in a documented form can be beneficial to both the parties. Random sampling is allowed: Random sampling is allowed under the law. By random sampling it is meant that the employer is entitled to collect random samples from data such as emails or CCTV records in order to check cases of pilferage if any. The employer also has a right to check the data from an employee it believes to be of suspicious character. Collection of only appropriate information: It is the bounden responsibility of the employer to ensure that only appropriate information as required for the particular case is collected. However in the case of further investigations, if certain new things crop up then the employer is well within his rights to collect more information. It is also mandated by law that the information so collected has to be kept in a secure place. There is also a time frame after which the data can no longer be maintained. These aspects have to be followed by the employer in detail. Collecting information oh health aspects is allowed: Many a time an occasion may arise when the employer may have to collect personal information about the health of its employee. This may be due to following of safety norms especially in places where the nature of jobs would be to work in hazardous environment. However the employee should be kept in the loop and should know that such information is being collected. The employer should also be able to justify the calling for such information. The rules and regulations should be clearly explained to the employee. It goes without saying that such information should be stored in a secure place. Exceptions to the rule: Sometimes the integrity of the employee could be suspect. Under such circumstances the employer has been given the right to do secret investigation without the knowledge of the concerned employee. Informing the employee under such circumstances would defeat the very purpose for which the investigation is conducted. However the law stipulates that the authorization for such secret monitoring should be obtained from the senior management and there should be a restriction on the number of people doing the investigative job. There is a specific period before which the monitoring should be completed. It is also very clearly documented that absolute private places such as toilets should not form part of the monitoring process unless the matter involves police investigation. In case the employer is convinced about the criminal intentions of the employee, the police authorities should also be informed. Disciplinary procedure: The employer has the right to proceed against the employee as per the rules of the organization. However the employee should be given full opportunity to defend his case in question. He should be given the right to comment on the findings and dispute the same if he finds it erroneous. The employer cannot withhold any information from the employee as the employee has been bestowed with these rights by the law. Conclusion: Monitoring of employees is necessary but it should be done within the provisions of the law.