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Privacy at Work: Know Your Rights

Mukta Gaikwad Aug 7, 2020
Employee workplace privacy rights are as important as employer's right to monitor the employees. Here are what both the employer and the employee need to know about their respective privacy rights.
What if your boss is monitoring all your Internet activities? And what if both of you are reading this page at the same time! You have reached this place wondering whether you should be given privacy rights at workplace and how to deal with violation of privacy at workplace.
It is quite likely that your boss may be keeping a watch over what you do at your workstation, the Web pages you read, the chat room you log-in to, the blog posts you write, and the comments you leave. He maybe monitoring your movements too, via a hidden camera over your head. Your boss could be adjudicating over your privacy rights in the following ways:
  • Monitoring your telephone conversations.
  • Recording your office phone conversations.
  • Videotaping your movements in the office premises.
  • Searching through your computer for some threatening information.
  • Scrutinizing your incoming and outgoing mails.

Why is Employee Privacy Rights An Issue?

Ever wondered why the employers are meddling with your privacy? The reasons are valid. Probably, you would be doing the same, if put in a similar situation. But, the employer is monitoring what you do for legal compliance. These records can be shown as a proof in the court, in case of any dispute.
He may also be monitoring the employees activities to assess their performances, or to do background check. The other reason can be gauging productivity measures and security measures. So eventually, your employer is only doing so, because he has yours and the company's best interests at heart.

Privacy in the Workplace

Privacy at workplace is important to assess the functioning of the organization. Due to globalization, many organizations have to deal with cultural diversity. It is very likely that the diversity may lead to hostile work conditions. Thus, to overcome this, the employer may have to intervene. This can lead to encroachment in your privacy at workplace.

Email Privacy Workplace

Your employer does monitor your internal e-mail messages. It is meant to monitor whether there is any obscene messages or transfer of any sensitive data. The other reason for intervening or checking on use of emails in office premise is because, e-mail systems are meant only for office use.

Privacy Rights of the Employee

Although the employer has a system of surveillance installed for security reasons, the employer must inform his employees about it. The management must have a clear layout of rules and regulations regarding privacy of employees at workplaces. The employer must adhere to 'supervision' and not indulge in malpractices like 'snoopervision'.
The culture at workplace must allow employees to voice their disagreements to management. This ensures employee motivation and creates a healthy environment to work in. While installing monitoring devices, the employer must keep in mind the comfort level of employees.
Privacy in a workplace and to what extent should one intervenes, has always been to extreme ends of an argument. But, every effective work environment knows how to balance the two, and reach heights of success.