In order to enhance work efficiency and companies’ profitability, employees’ privacy might sometimes be violated by various regulations and monitoring of companies. Some people suggest that privacy intrusion would bring obsession to employees, while many others argue that the reason why employers would monitor their workers is for protecting company’s interest, such as preventing theft or ensuring workers health and safety.
This essay will discuss five types of monitoring which are commonly used by the employers to monitor their employees in workplace and thus to see whether employees should be prepared to forfeit their right to privacy under these monitoring or not. In the first paragraph, it will focus on searching employees’ bags and person, this will be followed by conducting psychological and physical tests, and then video surveillance in the third, telephone recording and monitoring computer will be discussed in the fourth and final paragraph respectively.
The act of searching employees’ personal bags by employers might violate the privacy of employees. For employees, to decide whether they should be prepared to forfeit their right to privacy, they should first examine about the employer’s policies and their reasons for searching. If the monitoring is for lawful purpose which is related to work or an activity, such as a secret meeting hold in office, employers would thus have to search employees’ bag so as to ensure that there are no recording facility inside their bags.
In this case, the searching did by the employers is reasonable. On the other hand, employers would usually notice their employees with a legitimate reason before they do the searching. For example, if some important assets of the company are being stolen, employer would then notice their employees that they would have to check their personal belongings. However, if the searching did by the employers are without any legitimate reasons, the employees might have to claim that the employer is violating their privacy.
Psychological and physical tests pose a threat to employee privacy right. If employers do not have a reasonable reason for giving the test to its employees, not only intruding employees’ privacy, they would breach the employees’ legal rights as well. Although the aim of giving psychological and physical tests by the employers is to ensure the health and safety of the employees, except workers are voluntary and willing to take these testing, employers do not have the right to force them to take the testing.
If not, employers would invade the privacy of employees. While Brian B (2009) argues that, it is necessary for employers to ensure employees’ mental and physical condition for work by drug testing, otherwise employees who are keen on drugs will likely lead company to suffer recession. And thereby they would affect the company’s benefit. So, employees should be prepared to forfeit their right to privacy in order to protect company’s interest. Besides, employers should also ensure that the tests are performed covertly so that they would not invade the employees’ privacy (Boreman B, 2009).
Moreover, employees should surrender their privacy rights to video surveillance, as long as the employers have a reasonable and legitimate business reason in this manner. The aim of video monitoring is to avoid crime and keep proof rather than to infringe employees’ privacy. Video surveillance is very common in the workplace. (2008) According to a survey of the American Management Association in 2007, it showed that almost half of the employers who used video surveillance at work is because of anti-theft, violence, or sabotage. And 7% of the employers surveyed used video surveillance to monitor employee performance.
Video monitoring could avoid theft and enhance the security of customers as well as the monitoring by employers. On the contrary, if cameras are installed in the washroom or others rest areas of the workplace, employees should oppose this type of monitoring. For example, (Cheng J, 2007) San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom invested $500,000 on 70 cameras throughout the city, and then spent $200,000 on 178 cameras , saying that these video surveillance are useful in deterring crimes. Employers should never install camera surveillance equipment in areas such as restrooms, locker rooms or employee lounges which are designed for employees to rest. Therefore, where the cameras are installed is a key determination of privacy intrusion.
Another monitoring method is phone recording which hardly intrude employees’ privacy right. To decide whether the monitoring intrudes employees’ privacy or not is based on the acts of employers did, whether they did it overt or covert. American Management Association (2008) report reveals that employers spent 45% time to monitor call number whereas spent 16% to record phone conversations. The reason why the employers would monitor conversation in the call between employees and customers is that they want to ensure the quality of work and to keep business information. Generally, according to the regulations of most companies, employees would be noticed before they are being monitored on phone.
For example, in California, state law requires that there should be a beef tone or playing a recording message before recording the conversation on phone (1983, Joseph.E). On the other hand, sometimes employees would use office phone for private purpose which would affect their work efficiency and company’s benefit. Employees should use their own mobile phone, pay phone when they want to make personal calls.
Employees might consider to forfeit privacy right when legitimate monitoring computer, which can provide both the company and the consumer some level of legal protection. American Management Association (2008) mention that more than half of U.S. firms checks employee e-mail messages, the precentage have increased 12 percent from 1997 about 15percent. Employer has a policy explain that the computer systems should be used for business purposes only, then it has the right to monitor employees’ computer in the office. ( American Management Association, 2008) “Most employees receive policies regarding use of office business tools and privacy issues on the first day of employment, but too often they don’t read them.
Employers need to do more than hand over a written policy,” says Manny Avramidis. Hence employer ignore the monitor right of employer. Although some information in the computer is private, employers monitor e-mail communication between clients and employees as a quality control measure. For instance, in the BBC website (2002), one person from south Africa stated that when checked an employee private computer found one e-mail that looked like client to employee mail, but the employee of the company was committing crime by performing work with direct payment to their private bank account.
Hilley (2008) suggest that in workplace information of computer such as e-mail is a written business, which records employees’ work online equal to DNA evidence. Hence employees obey monitoring computer, in order to detect directly problem and monitor customer service. Otherwise employee have right to protect privacy right about using internet and computer without business.
To conclude, although everyone is entitled to respect for their privacy right at work, employees should be prepared to forfeit their right to privacy when they are aimed to protect company’s interest. However, if the employers use monitoring without any reasonable purposes, notice to employees before they monitor so as to ensure that the invasion of the privacy of employees did by them is already be minimized, employees should defense for their privacy.