The long-awaited code giving guidance to
employers on their rights when monitoring staff in the workplace has been
Information Commissioner Richard Thomas claims
it is substantially shorter and more accessible than previous drafts. After the
last draft was published, HR professionals, the CIPD and the CBI called for
further clarification of the definitions in the code over when employers can
access employees’ personal e-mails and under what circumstances.
Thomas said the code, which sets out employers’
rights under the Data Protection Act 1998, aims to strike a balance between the
legitimate expectations of employees and the interests of employers.
"If an employer has to check how staff are
using computers at work, he should make sure they know how and why the checks
will be carried out.
"If any monitoring is to take place it
must be open and transparent and with the knowledge of employees. In reality,
there are few circumstances in which covert monitoring is justified.
"The fundamental message is that where
monitoring does take place, employees should be made aware of its nature and
extent and the reasons for carrying it out," he said.
The code is now available on
the Information Commissioner’s office website at www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk.
Q&A on the code to find out what’s involved in complying.