It is becoming increasingly more common for workplaces to install security cameras as a method of addressing issues of staff safety and security. However, for many employees, the installation of security cameras throughout their office or place of work can cause feelings of unease and distrust. We have taken a look into this issue to explore the legal requirements employers must meet when engaging in workplace surveillance.
In NSW, Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 (NSW) (“the Act”) applies to surveillance of an employee carried out or caused to be carried out by the employee’s employer whilst the employee is at work for that employer.
The three forms of surveillance covered by the Act are:
1. Camera surveillance: which is surveillance by means of a camera that monitors or records visual images of activities on premises or in any other place;
2. Computer surveillance: which is surveillance by means of software or other equipment that monitors or records the information input or output, or other use, of a computer (including, but not limited to, the sending and receipt of emails and the accessing of Internet websites); and
3. Tracking surveillance: which is surveillance by means of an electronic device the primary purpose of which is to monitor or record geographical location or movement (such as a Global Positioning System tracking device).
If an employer intends to conduct any of the above forms of surveillance, such surveillance must not commence without at least 14 days prior written notice being given to an employee. This written notice can be in the form of an email. Specifically, such notice must indicate:
1. The kind of surveillance to be carried out (camera, computer or tracking); and
2. How the surveillance will be carried out; and
3. When the surveillance will start; and
4. Whether the surveillance will be continuous or intermittent; and
5. Whether the surveillance will be for a specified limited period or ongoing.
Irrespective of the above, an employer is prohibited from carrying out, or causing to be carried out, any surveillance of an employee in any change room, toilet facility or shower/bathing facility at the workplace. An employer is also prohibited from carrying out, or causing to be carried out, any surveillance of an employee using work surveillance, whilst that employee is not at work.
Surveillance of an employee that does not comply with these requirements is considered ‘covert surveillance’. Covert surveillance is an offence unless it has been authorised by a covert surveillance authority.
If you think you have an issue with surveillance in your workplace, either as an employee or an employer contact our Parramatta Employment Law team for assistance and advice.
Written by Amelia Hatton