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Installing CCTV in the workplace

Many workplaces already have CCTV but if you’re thinking about installing CCTV in the workplace, Alison Driver of Metis HR shares her tips to reduce concerns from employees.

There are some sound business reasons why a business owner would think about installing CCTV. For employers installing CCTV in the workplace there are some additional things to think about.

Why do employers install CCTV?

There are any number of reasons but typically they fall into three brackets

  • Security: preventing crime, violence towards employees and employee theft are some of the most common.
  • Health and safety: to check that health and safety rules are being complied with but also to have footage available to investigate any breaches or incidents.
  • Compliance with legal and regulatory obligations: we see this most in the financial services sector, but we also find specific areas of other businesses like food preparation areas using CCTV to monitor processes.

There is a Code of Practice developed by the Information Commissioner for surveillance cameras and personal information in the workplace

Do I have to tell my employees that I’m thinking about installing CCTV in the workplace?

Yes.

It doesn’t matter why you’re installing the CCTV; you should inform employees of the plans as soon as possible. Ideally, you’d use a formal consultation process to get feedback from your employees. With that feedback you can amend your CCTV policies. But you can also begin to understand what people’s concerns are.

If you choose not to tell them, you’re not going to be able to use the CCTV evidence as part of any disciplinary proceedings. You could also potentially violate their right to privacy under the Human Rights Act 1998.

For employees who weren’t in your business when consultation took place you should have

  • a copy of the finalised CCTV Policy in the employee handbook for them to read
  • display signs to say
    • where the locations of the cameras are
    • the reason for the monitoring
    • who to contact if they have any questions or queries

Can I use CCTV to monitor employees?

If one of the reasons that you’re installing CCTV is to monitor employees, as long as you’ve made them aware of this in writing and explained the reasons why, you’re ok to go ahead.

Monitoring employees in secret is only acceptable in very rare circumstances. You should have a policy in place for this kind of covert recording. The policy should include:

  • a mechanism whereby senior management authorises covert (secret) recording
  • a requirement that the recording is only carried out either for a set period of time and as part of a specific investigation. It should not be used merely as a “fishing expedition”.
  • the senior managers authorising its use consider the risk of intrusion on innocent employees; and
  • areas where privacy is expected (toilet areas and locker rooms) are not included in the monitoring.

What do I do if I find evidence of other misconduct during covert recording?

You shouldn’t use this evidence against any employee who you have caught by accident whilst monitoring someone else, unless it is potential gross misconduct e.g. theft. Where the misconduct is minor you should not use this ‘secret’ footage in any disciplinary action against that employee.

Are there any risks to monitoring employees with CCTV?

There are some risks, but consulting with employees before you implement CCTV will reduce the problems that you experience.

  • Employee trust– If you install CCTV without making employees aware of what you’re doing, you risk damaging the relationship with your employees. It could lead to employees raising Grievances against you as their employer. In the consultation phase, make sure that you explain the background to your decision, why you feel it’s necessary. Explain how you expect the Company to store the images and how you will limit who accesses them. Listen to their concerns and respond to them.
  • Violation of the Human Rights Act– If the nature of your video monitoring is overly intrusive, you could be violating the privacy of your employees. You could breach their Human Rights. Any reputable Security company installing CCTV will advise you that you aren’t permitted to place cameras where people expect privacy such as toilet areas and changing rooms. In your CCTV policy and the consultation document identify where cameras will be located to allay fears of breach of privacy.
  • Excessive Scrutiny – the Telecommunications Regulations 2000 ensures that employees can carry out their duties without concerns over excessive security. Your consultation process should address how you will limit the surveillance to just what is necessary.

 

Can I use CCTV footage in a Disciplinary Hearing?

Yes, providing the Company’s Data Controller is involved. They need to ensure that nobody else views the video data, other than those involved in the Disciplinary Investigation of Hearing without good reason to do so.

Do I need a CCTV policy?

Yes, you should have a policy that sets out what you record, how long you save it, who can access images etc. If you’re thinking about installing CCTV in the workplace and would like a Metis HR template policy just message them or call on 01706 565332 and we’ll send you one right back.

 

Alison Driver MBA, BSc(Hons), FCMI, Chartered FCIPD is Managing Director of Metis HR. She is an HR Consultant with over 35 years of “coal face” experience of dealing with HR and employment law in the workplace.

An average HR Consultant will say that they can provide your business with HR advice. Alison Driver, on the other hand, is delivering from experience.

At the age of 24, Alison was managing 105 unionised cleaning and catering staff in the NHS.  The enforced exercise of the Government’s drive for Compulsory Competitive Tendering in the NHS in 1985 resulted in Alison cutting her management teeth on making 36 employees redundant in order to successfully win the tender in-house.

Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. It specialises in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call now on 01706 565332 to discuss how Metis HR may help you.

 

Tel: 0161 762 9936
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