CIPD hopeful of workable rules on covert monitoring

Employers are optimistic that
they will no longer have to automatically contact the police before the covert
monitoring of staff as the final draft on guidance claimed.

Employer bodies believe they
won a significant victory at the last meeting with the Information Commission
on 16 April to change to final draft code. 

The CIPD’s Diane Sinclair said
that the Information Commission had accepted that it was impractical for
employers to contact the police over all covert monitoring.

She said many employers would
want to monitor for soft drug abuse, for example, but would not want to involve
the police. 

The Information Commission
acknowledged that covert monitoring of some types of offence would not be in
breach of the Data Protection Act, but has yet to decide when police must be

David Smith, said: “It is an
area that we have been looking at again. Covert monitoring is a serious
intrusion of privacy, which is why we originally included the need to contact
the police.

at the consultation said that even for serious criminal offences they may want
to deal with them internally."

Essential questions on the
monitoring of staff

What is the code?
It is employer guidance on how to comply with the 1998 Data Protection Act,
which came into force last year

When will it be released?
It will be published within six weeks

How often will staff have to
be notified of monitoring?
Staff will have to be notified ‘on a regular basis’, and this can be via
payslips, e-mails or staff newsletters

Will staff be able to
monitor staff covertly?
Employers will have to complete a form justifying covert monitoring and
outline why they suspect criminal activity. Police will also have be informed
in certain cases

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