Employee Surveillance – How Far Does The Rabbit Hole Go?
Top Tips to employers prior to instructing surveillance on employees:
When you should use surveillance
Ensure you have given employees “thorough” assistance before instructing employee surveillance. Courts will often rule that an employee was not provided with adequate support before surveillance was used.
Ensure there is a “strong case” for surveillance on employees when they are found to have been acting “fraudulently” in employer’s time. Examples could be time-sheet or PC misuse, playing sports or on vacation whilst on sick leave, evidence they are using their labour elsewhere etc.
Surveillance should only be used when sufficient evidence is at hand and not purely through “hearsay”. Try obtaining a medical report from an occupational health professional for stress or anxiety absence or an orthopaedic expert for a multi-skeletal leave of absence. Ask the medical expert for their opinion on whether the employee’s sickness appears genuine before instructing surveillance.
Employers should have a return to work policy in place and do all they reasonably can to assist the employee return to work before instructing surveillance. This can be in the form of offering re-training, flexible working hours, rehabilitation, counselling etc.
Look for “patterns” of absence from employees before considering surveillance. Regular or long term absence by senior management or highly remunerated staff is often a red flag. It may indicate they may be using their labour elsewhere, looking for a reason to retire or possibly to pursue a compensation claim. Surveillance is more cost effective on these employees rather than the occasional “Monday Morning” sickness employee.
Ensure the surveillance firm you employ is experienced in surveillance gathering techniques. More importantly ensure they are insured for Employer and Public Liability insurance and fully compliant with legislation surrounding surveillance and the obtaining of personal data.