ICO publishes new guidance on monitoring workers

The guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office covers the workplace and beyond

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Employers will welcome new guidance from the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to help them comply with UK data protection rules if they monitor workers.

The new guidance, Employment practices and data protection − Monitoring workers, covers monitoring both at work and elsewhere, whether during working hours or not, including monitoring of those working from home.

Examples of the practical advice in the guidance include:

  • Staff working from home can most likely expect greater privacy – especially important if there is a risk that monitoring could also capture data about family members and other non-employees.
  • Employers must, in all circumstances, prefer the least intrusive way of monitoring their workforce.
  • Additional requirements apply where monitoring involves ‘special category’ data.

In certain respects, the guidance recommends practices that go beyond the strict legal requirements, such as completing data protection assessments even when not required. It also highlights the ease with which monitoring, once introduced, can be gradually extended by virtue of ‘scope creep’, with the risk that the company inadvertently ends up collecting and processing data in a way that is not justified under data protection law.

The guidance recommends consulting with workforce representatives in relation to the technologies to be used when monitoring, and how it will be introduced.

There are also useful checklists in the new guidance. Employers should read the free guidance on the ICO website.

Additional resources

Take a look at the latest suite of ACCA employment factsheets.

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