The UK Rules
Being Watched at Work

Being Monitored at Work Workers' Rights

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.

As a rule, there will be ways of solving a workplace dispute using informal methods. But, a last resort might mean resigning from work and claiming for unfair 'constructive' dismissal.

Searching Employees at Work

Your employer should have a written policy on searching employees. As a minimum, all staff searches should:

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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.

Testing Employees for Drugs

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.

CCTV Monitoring and Checking Staff Emails

Being Monitored at Work: Workers' Rights in the United KingdomThe 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.

Being Monitored at Work: Your Rights in the United Kingdom