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Is It Illegal To Track Your Employees’ Activities When They’re Working From Home?

Is It Illegal To Track Your Employees’ Activities When They’re Working From Home?

With the increasing trend of remote work and hybrid setups, employers are actively seeking methods to monitor their employees’ productivity and ensure they are engaged while working remotely. This need arises from the emergence of new work-related phenomena such as “quiet quitting,” which has transformed into “Bare Minimum Mondays” and “Try Less Tuesdays.” Unfortunately, some employees exploit the flexibility of remote work to reduce their workload.

However, not all remote employees fall into this category of underperformers. So, how can employers distinguish between diligent workers and those taking advantage of the situation? This is where tools like Teramind and ActivTrak come into play. These software solutions can be installed on employees’ workstations and laptops, enabling employers to monitor their activities both in the office and remotely.

These monitoring tools offer valuable insights into employees’ productivity and time allocation. Employers can track work hours, attendance, and even prevent employees from accessing inappropriate websites during company time. While the concept of monitoring may face opposition, it is important to note that in the United States, it is legal to monitor work-related activities on workplace devices, although the specific laws vary by state. Consulting an HR attorney regarding employee-related monitoring is advisable, as consent requirements may differ.

Moreover, it is within the legal bounds to monitor company-owned devices outside of work hours as well. This includes monitoring internet traffic, search history, website visits, GPS geolocation, and content viewed. Even if employees use their personal devices for work through a BYOD (bring your own device) policy, employers can legally monitor those devices as long as they are used for work purposes.

If you are considering implementing employee-monitoring software, here are some recommendations to ensure a smooth rollout:

  1. Communicate openly: Inform your employees about the monitoring activities you plan to undertake and how they will be conducted. Transparency plays a crucial role in establishing and maintaining trust. Most individuals would be understandably upset if they discover they are being monitored without their knowledge. Although you may have the legal right to monitor without prior notification (in most states), it is advisable to be open about it to ensure understanding and clarity about the recorded data.
  2. Define guidelines: Clearly outline what is permissible and what is not during work hours and on company-owned assets. If you wish to restrict access to certain websites or discourage mixing personal activities with work-related tasks on company devices, clearly communicate these expectations. For remote workers, establish guidelines regarding work start and end times, break durations, and availability expectations. By setting expectations in writing, you minimize the risk of employees claiming ignorance about the rules.
  3. Seek legal counsel: Before implementing any monitoring software, cameras, or activities, consult with legal experts. Employment laws and privacy regulations are subject to change, and it is essential to ensure compliance and avoid violating anyone’s rights. Data privacy is an increasingly sensitive and legally complex issue, as demonstrated by the lawsuit against White Castle, which could potentially result in significant financial penalties due to alleged violation of biometric identification laws.

While employee monitoring is legally permissible, it is crucial to navigate employment laws and prioritize the privacy and data protection rights of the employees you monitor. If you require assistance in establishing a secure and productive remote workplace, we are here to help. Click here to schedule a brief call where we can discuss your options and provide ideas on enhancing productivity and ensuring safety for your entire team, regardless of their location or work arrangements.

Need help implementing a more secure and productive remote workplace? Click here to schedule a quick call to discuss your options and to get ideas on how we can help you and your entire team be productive and safe, no matter where or how you choose to work.

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