Regulation ‘urgently’ needed to combat employer surveillance of those working at home, says Labour

Employers are tracking workers through their emails, messages and even through their webcams.

22 Jan 2021| News

The Labour Party has called for regulation to be updated to protect workers against surveillance of their work-at-home activities by employers.

The call comes after a YouGov survey found that one in five firms is using online software to track productivity by monitoring emails and messages (including how long it takes for workers to reply), attendance at meetings and even using webcams to record individuals at work.

One in seven workers told the TUC this form of surveillance had increased during the pandemic and analysis by the organisation warned use of these technologies can lead to discrimination against disabled workers and those with caring duties, with redundancy decisions increasingly informed by artificial intelligence and algorithms.

“Guidance and regulation to protect workers are woefully outdated in light of the accelerated move to remote working and rapid advancements in technology,” Chi Onwurah, Labour’s Shadow Digital Minister, said.

“Ministers must urgently provide better regulatory oversight of online surveillance software to ensure people have the right to privacy whether in their workplace or home – which are increasingly one and the same.”

Labour is calling for the Information Commissioner’s Office to update its Code of Employment Practices in consultation with trade unions and workers.