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Whilst employees have certain rights to privacy, it is not unlawful to use CCTV in the workplace. However where the use of CCTV has any adverse effect on employees this must be justified by the benefit to the employer eg: there are thefts taking place in the plant area which they are unable to prevent by other means.
You've mentioned that consent has been given to have cameras in the warehouse - so it sounds as though some sort of consultation process has been carried out with employees or their unions about this. Is this correct? Has the employer carried out a similar process in relation to installing cameras in the plant as well?
The employer should provide you with reasons for now wanting to install cameras in the plant - particularly as guidance given under the Data Protection Act suggests that you should be aware of the extent and reasons for any CCTV monitoring that is carried out.
Employers should also:
1. Ensure workers are aware that they are being monitored and why - a suggestion is that they put a notice up on a noticeboard in the area where monitoring is taking place;
2. If the employer is using monitoring to enforce rules and standards of work, employees should clearly understand what these rules and standards are;
3. Any information obtained through monitoring should only be used for the purpose the CCTV cameras were installed in the first place - unless of course the information obtained from monitoring discloses an activity that no reasonable employer could be expected to ignore eg: breach of health and safety which puts employees at risk or potential criminal offence.
4. Keep the information obtained securely and ensure that it is kept no longer than necessary and it is deleted when it is no longer needed eg once it has been used in taking disciplinary action against an employee.
I hope you've found this answer useful.
Best of luck
the consent was given in that it was an open discussion but nothing was signed in agreement either in contracts or with the union.
There have been no written guidlines handed out to assertain the exact use for the cameras, but it was mentioned it was for seeing how board gets damaged and then to see if people needed to get retrained. with this in mind it would suggest that they would use it to focus on any given individual, would this then fall under the DP act 1998? is it a breach of trust? do we then enter European law for DP and human rights?
Thank you for coming back to me.
The installation by your employer of the CCTV cameras in the warehouse doesn't need to be expressly agreed to in your employment contracts or with a union. As long as they have followed the guidelines/principles set out by the Information Commissioner, that should be enough. I have given you a very brief outline of what the employer should do in points 1 to 4 of my original reply which I hope you find helpful.
I find it surprising that a business would want to go the expense of installing CCTV for the purpose of finding out how board gets damaged unless of course this is a problem that the employer has been struggling with for some time, is costing the employer a lot of money and they have already tried other options (the simplest of which would be to ask the employees working in the relevant area) to try and resolve the issue without going to these lengths.
I have attached a link to the Employment Practices Code and Supplementary Guidance which are available on the Information Commissioners website (http://www.ico.gov.uk/) where you can find the relevant guidance about monitoring employees in the workplace - see particularly p68 onwards of the Code and p46 onwards of the Guidance. If you feel that your employer is not complying with its obligations, you do have the opportunity to make a complaint against your employer to the Information Commissioner. Details of how to do this will be on the website.
Employment Practices Code
In terms of your question about a breach of trust, my view on the information available is that there is unlikely to be sufficient grounds to make such a claim, which, in any event, would probably involve you resigning and claiming constructive dismissal. Alternatively you could try and raise your concern about the installation of the CCTV informally with management - and show them the Information Commissioner's guidance - and if this does not work, you could raise a grievance under the employer's grievance procedures.
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