Understanding laws governing privacy in the workplace

Fri Nov 02 2018

Employees have the right to privacy - It is the law! Although difficult at times, there must be a good balance between your employee's rights to privacy and your business needs. Employees should be entitled to a certain level of privacy while at work. Whether it’s ensuring that their personal phone calls are private, or their private information is protected, employers must provide their workers with some level of security and privacy.

Talk to your employees and obtain their consent. Your employees should be aware of whether their privacy at the workplace is affected. Obtaining their consent protects your company against future litigations and lawsuits. For instance, employers usually have the authority to access an employee’s workspace, computer, and company-related emails. However, most employers must inform employees if they are monitoring their phone conversations.

Your handbook should state that your employees should not expect privacy when it comes to social media. With the rise of social media and various different social platforms, things on the internet are often accessible to the public eye. Make sure your employees are aware that they should be careful how they represent your company when it comes to posting pictures or messages.

Make sure you have a clearly outlined policy in your employee handbook regarding your employee's privacy, and what is expected of them. Policies vary within the workplace so make sure your employees read the employee handbook so that they know their privacy rights. Whether it’s a periodical locker search or checking their web search history, employees should be informed regarding what is being monitored in the workplace.

Make sure you have a Technology policy in your handbook, clearly outlining employer’s rights and employee's expectations regarding email communication, computer file storage, etc. Since computers and electronic equipment usually belong to the employer, they are entitled to monitor what their employees do online. By addressing this policy in your employee handbook, both parties can be informed as to what level of privacy is expected in the workplace.