Remote surveillance tech monitors employee infractions

Remote surveillance tech monitors employee infractions
With remote working, the age-old technique of a look over the shoulder from a boss to make sure employees are on task has largely been relegated to the past, but now remote technologies offer employers a new way to snoop on its remote working employees.

The Guardian reported that Telepresence, a French company with 380,000 employees, is reportedly planning to monitor its staff for working-from-home work infractions through specialist webcams, checking whether employees are eating, away from their desk or being idle on their phones. 

The camera works in conjunction with an artificial intelligence system, randomly scanning for breaches of work practice throughout an employee’s shift. Photos of infractions are taken if detected and sent to a manager to be stored for up to 20 days. The AI system also uses facial recognition to identify if the worker is an employee of the company. 

While remote scans would not be rolled out in the UK, levels of remote scrutiny is different in other countries and could be rolled out with the full webcam surveillance system in other areas of the globe. 

Elsewhere, clerks at convenience stores like 7-Eleven in the US are being monitored by remote workers, both to ensure employee compliance and for security purposes. 

Is it legal?

The answer depends on where you are. In the EU, article eight of the European Convention on Human Rights aims to guarantee the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence. 

In the case of Lopez Ribalda and Others v Spain, an employer secretly recorded its employees, dismissing a number of workers who were caught stealing and dismissed. 

Though the employees were not informed of the hidden cameras, the court agreed that their rights had not been violated because of concerns from the employer, deeming the employer’s actions to be necessary and proportionate. 

In the UK, the relevant act or regulation depends on what you are monitoring and why, and employers should ensure that any approach of employee surveillance complies with the statutory rules in the circumstances of the potential surveillance. 

Photo credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

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