There’s nothing wrong with monitoring staff, as it can offer many benefits such as helping you to identify and understand any patterns or trends emerging throughout your workforce. However, you need to ensure that your activities are within the law. Here are a few things to watch out for…
You can monitor many different things when it comes to employees, but you need to be aware that in order to lawfully monitor aspects such as internet or drug usage, you must have a contractual right to do so. The best way of doing this is to ensure that these rights are incorporated into relevant policies and recorded in the employee’s contract of employment, or the employment handbook.
Here are some common elements of employee’s work that businesses often choose to monitor, and some further information about getting it right as an employer.
Monitoring performance can be done through implementing a ‘key performance indicator’ (KPI) system, as well as keeping and analysing data on whether KPIs are met or not.
You should apply these requirements equally and fairly to all employees – but that said, you need to be mindful that adjusting them for specific employees may be necessary if you’re under a duty to consider reasonable adjustments.
Good employee conduct is key to ensuring that:
- Workforce morale is kept on a high
- Working relationships are good
- The business operates smoothly
For that reason, you should monitor conduct and keep a record of any actions taken in accordance with your disciplinary procedure if unacceptable conduct occurs. You should investigate all allegations of misconduct, gather evidence and if upheld, record the outcome on the employee’s personnel file and keep it there for a specified period depending on the sanction.
Absence is another aspect which should be monitored, by recording:
- The number of instances
- The length of absences
- The reasons for them
This data can help you to identify any trends in the workforce, or any patterns for particular employees. Analysing the data will allow you to take steps to prepare for any periods of high absences.
Internet and email use
An internet and company equipment usage policy can allow employers to monitor any personal usage on company equipment, and even treat abuse as a disciplinary offence.
Place the policy in the contract or handbook and make sure that employees are aware that this practice takes place by obtaining their signature. Where personal email communications are involved, employers should tread carefully – but two recent court cases have shown that an employee’s human rights were not breached when their employer read their personal emails for the following reasons:
- The employer had a policy that no personal use of work IT equipment was permitted and that all communication would be monitored.
- The employee had brought personal relationships into the workplace when he sent anonymous emails to colleagues’ work email addresses about a relationship of this that had ended.
If you need any help with monitoring your staff effectively but lawfully, call the Peninsula 24 Hour Advice Service on 0844 892 2785.