Brain Training: 10 things you need to know about ... workplace monitoring

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1. Insurance firms are increasingly well informed about the risks and obligations entailed in handling client data, but often less so about personal data relating to their own employees.

2. The key legislation here is the Data Protection Act 1998, while Part 3 of the Employment Practices Data Protection Code sets out the requirement for employers to collect and handle employee data in a fair and proper way.

3. The code covers not just current employees but also job applicants past and present, causal and agency workers, and even, to some extent, volunteers or work experience placements.

4. The Act, and hence the code, do not deny employers the right to monitor their staff, but do require that any adverse impact be assessed and justified against specific benefits to the employer or to others.

5. Certain forms of monitoring, however, may contravene Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which should also be considered in the context of any proposed monitoring.

6. Before undertaking any employee monitoring, firms need to consider whether and how those being monitored will be notified, how data will be held securely, and individuals' right to see and challenge data held.

7. Check that your employment practices and procedures are in line with the provisions of the code and that everyone within the firm understands their data protection rights, obligations and potential criminal liability.

8. Ensure your organisation has a valid notification in the Register of Data Controllers relating to handling employees' personal data (check your status at www.dpr.gov.uk)

9. If you plan to monitor phone, fax, email, voicemail or internet access, ensure you have a clear policy on this (including properly defined privacy expectations) and communicate it to all workers.

10. Any monitoring should take place within the context of a corporate culture that respects private life, data protection rights and the security and confidentiality of workers' personal information.

Source: Searchlight Insurance Training

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