Can You Legally Monitor Remote Workers?
The Legal Considerations of Monitoring Remote Workers
Employers need to consider the legal implications of monitoring remote employees and consult legal counsel prior to monitoring such employees. Each employer will need to consider their unique risks and compliance obligations. They will need to take state and local laws into consideration as well.
Generally speaking, employers face the same legal guidelines for monitoring remote workers’ technology as they would monitoring the same technology in the workplace. However, many states have laws that require advance notice of monitoring to protect employee privacy. And if employees use personal devices for work purposes when working from home, employers may face additional legal requirements for advance notice of monitoring and data storage. Finally, employers requiring employees to utilize video conferencing to conduct business may face legal issues surrounding the recording of images and voices of employees if they don’t expressly give their permission.
Because of these inherent legal risks, employers should consult legal counsel. They should create a formalized written policy to document plans for monitoring remote workers. This should include how employers plan to protect employee privacy and data.
Best Practices for Monitoring Remote Employees
If monitoring remote employees is the right move for your organization, keep these best practices in mind. These will help keep employees and managers on the same page.
Communicate Your Plans
To avoid feelings of distrust and frustration, transparent communication about your company’s intent to monitor remote employees is key. Giving employees a heads up about monitoring, including what they will monitor and what your expectations are for them while they’re working from home, will go a long way.
Establish Formal, Written Guidelines
Ensure that managers avoid micromanaging employees. Set clear guidelines for what you will track and how often managers should be reviewing such data. This will also help employees feel like their privacy is being respected, as managers should be focusing on specific aspects. All guidelines should be documented in a formal written policy that is readily accessible for employees to review.
Be Open to Making Changes
The data you gather while monitoring remote employees may point out inefficiencies in workplace processes. It could also reveal that employees are working more productively at home. On the contrary, if the data reveals that employees are struggling with a procedure or project, you may need to make necessary adjustments. If the data reveals that there are changes that could be made to benefit the overall workplace, employers should be open to making those changes.
Is Monitoring Your Remote Employees Right for You?
Again, monitoring remote employees may not be the best option for every employer. However, by keeping these practices and advice from professional legal counsel in mind, employers who choose to monitor remote employees may find success.
Visit our previous article for more pros and cons of monitoring remote workers.
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