Calls grow for clearer staff monitoring rules

HR experts are demanding that rules
on employee records and the monitoring of staff communications need
clarification to end the widespread confusion surrounding the data protection
code.

The CIPD wants the code
to be published as a single document to make it accessible to companies and
staff.

The code of practice
will be released in five parts from June but employers will have to wait until
the end of the year for the section that contains crucial guidelines on
employee monitoring.

CIPD employee
relations adviser Diane Sinclair said, "Anything that will be issued in
five parts is too long – a short, single document would be the best way of
dealing with this issue."

Last week, Allen &
Overy’s survey of FTSE 100 companies showed that 84 per cent of employers are
monitoring employees’ communications, yet only 21 per cent have made staff,
customers and clients aware of monitoring and surveillance.

Harjit Sidhu, HR
director at telecoms company Transcomm, said, "We have looked at the code.
It is quite lengthy, complicated and difficult to understand. What we need is
something very simple which contains some clear guidelines."

Employers have already
raised serious doubts over the complexity of the data protection code and the
problem that without staff consent employers would have to destroy all sickness
records (News, 16 January).

The Information
Commission claims the revised version of the code will be simpler than its
initial draft. Strategic policy manager Iain Bourne explained that the
commission will publish the code on recruitment and selection data first,
followed by the code on general records.

Codes on medical
testing and monitoring will be released near the end of the year.

Monitoring of staff

84 per cent of organisations
surveyed monitor employees’ communications

70 per cent of firms have data
protection policies

33 per cent of companies use
automated testing on job applicants

20 per cent of organisations test
for drugs or alcohol prior to recruitment

Source: Allen & Overy

By Richard Staines

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