Surveillance at work
Second up was Paul Scholey from Morrish Solicitors, who updated delegates on the developments in surveillance and monitoring in the workplace. Paul began by referring to the TUC report ‘I’ll be watching you’ from August 2018 which he commended and drew attention to a number of the facts contained in the report. He also pointed to the recommendations in the report that trade unions should be consulted in advance on the use of monitoring and surveillance at work.
Turning to current legislation relating to this subject, Paul explained that the law was extensive and that ACAS had also produced useful guidance on the issue. He also referred to the ICO website and the guidance of the Employment Practices Code which was fulsome. He went on to refer to the Human Rights Act and in particular Article 8 which provides a right to family and private life, however he pointed out that these were limited and qualified. Court cases had established that the right to privacy extended to the workplace but in many cases employers’ rights trumped the individual rights.
In more recent cases, Paul pointed to decisions which included a case where the use of a private mobile phone contents in a disciplinary hearing was found to be in order by the ECJ. Cases had also determined that the use of cameras monitoring theft in the workplace in the workplace were found originally to be illegal until overturned by the Grand Chamber in Europe. Paul also mentioned the use of covert recording of meetings and the decision in Phoenix House v Stockman which set out a range of circumstances in which covert recording may be accepted.
In a case in Scotland (BC and others v Chief Constable Police Service of Scotland and others, 2019) the courts found that a WhatsApp private group’s right to privacy was trumped where a regulatory provision overrided the applicants’ right to privacy.
Paul ended by referring to cases on live facial recognition which have been commented upon by the ICO very recently, recommending consideration of uses of technology like live facial recognition and ow far should we, as a society, consent to police forces reducing our privacy in order to keep us safe?”
Download Paul’s presentation here