Ride the Lightning

Cybersecurity and Future of Law Practice Blog
by Sharon D. Nelson Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

Employers Monitoring Employees at Home: Stats From the UK

November 9, 2021

ZDNet reported on November 8 that, according to data from a poll of more than 2,400 UK workers conducted by Opinium, 32% are now being monitored in some form by their employers — up from 24% in April 2021.

A UK trade union, Prospect, is now calling for the introduction of measures to protect employees from “intrusive monitoring.” It said it was concerned that the increase in organizations using surveillance technologies to monitor workers was going unchecked and happening without the consent of employees.

The quick shift to remote working in early 2020 created both technical and managerial challenges for businesses, who suddenly found themselves having to effectively coordinate teams from a distance.

Looking for productivity, remote monitoring services, which offer a variety of software-based tools allowing administrators to track employees’ online activity, have been quickly adopted.

Many employees are being monitored in their own homes, many of whom are not being properly consulted before such technologies are introduced – potentially breaching GDPR policy.

Privacy advocates are also worried that remote monitoring software is being introduced more quickly than policies and laws to govern its use. “Technology has undoubtedly kept many of us safe, connected and working during the pandemic, but there is now a mission creep in its purpose,” Andrew Pakes, Prospect deputy general secretary, told ZDNet.

Employees are largely against the use of remote monitoring and surveillance software.

Eighty per cent of workers polled said the use of webcams to monitor employees should either be heavily regulated (28%) or banned (52%), while just 8% believed employers should have autonomy over when they can use cameras to monitor workers at home.

Prospect has called on the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which is currently reviewing employer guidance on new workplace technologies, to ensure workers get a say in their introduction and ensure full transparency in the way these technologies are used, including the type of data that is gathered by employers.

The union is also calling on the UK government to make it illegal for employers to use webcams to monitor people in their homes or check up on workers outside of meetings and calls.

 My sense is that the same escalation in monitoring employees is happening here, but I’ve not yet seen statistics on this topic. Should I find some, I will post them. This is a worrisome trend.

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., President, Sensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225, Fairfax, VA 22030
Email: Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology