If workers are being monitored at work by employers, it must be legal and fair. Check your rights on monitoring that takes data, images, or requires drug testing.
MONITORING WORKERS: There are various ways an employer might monitor the workforce. Common ways of getting monitored at work include:
Any monitoring that involves taking images, data, or drug testing falls under data protection law in the United Kingdom.
There are several steps workers can take if they are unhappy about getting monitored. The first step is to check the work contract or staff handbook to check whether the employer can do it.
Your employer should have a written policy on searching employees. As a minimum, all staff searches should:
Note: There are steps you can take after a 'badly' handled search or a drug test. Workers may have a rightful claim for discrimination, assault, or for false imprisonment.
An employer must have consent to test an employee for drugs. As a rule, employee drug testing gets cited in a work contract or the staff handbook. It would be part of a full contractual health and safety policy.
When testing a worker for drugs the employer should:
Note: Under the law, employers cannot force their employees to take a drugs test. But, a refusal - when there is good grounds for testing - may result in disciplinary action.
The amount of monitoring taking place must be 'clearly' explained by employers. As a rule, the information would be in a contract of employment or the staff handbook.
The details should inform workers:
Typical examples of checking up on staff and types of monitoring include:
Employers cannot monitor workers in all places at the workplace. For example, workers must not get monitored in the toilet areas. Failing to respect this ruling could be in breach of the Data Protection Act.
Note: Acas (the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) have further advice about workplace disputes. You can also contact your local Citizens Advice or your trade union representative.
If you request closed circuit television (CCTV) footage of yourself the owner of the footage must provide it within thirty (30) days. They might charge you for it but it should not cost more than £10.
You would need to make a written request to the owner of the system. It is not always obvious who owns the CCTV system (unless it is a shop). But, you can often find their details stamped on a sign attached to the camera.
Tell the owners you are requesting information they are holding about you under the Data Protection Act.
You may need to provide some basic information to help them identify you in the footage, such as:
There may be certain situations where the owner cannot share any of the footage with you, such as if:
In some cases, the owner of the CCTV system may invite you to an authorised viewing of the footage:
But, if sharing the footage is going to put a criminal investigation at risk, they can refuse your request to get CCTV footage of yourself.
Note: As a general rule, most closed circuit television footage will be 'automatically' deleted 30 days after the recording. You can also contact the local council about crime prevention and community safety if you have further concerns.
The police may already have the closed circuit television (CCTV) footage if some of the filming relates to a crime. In this case, the police would inform you whether you can view it.
Being Monitored at Work: Your Rights in United Kingdom