The Corporates are dealing with employee’s right to privacy in the work place as one of the issues where this has started to become an increasingly complex issue especially in the period of advanced technology. Technology has enabled the Employers and the individuals with super powers in terms of managing and connecting with people around the world.
With such a revolution in place, technology has also enabled the Employers to monitor all the work place communication done by the Employees using the internet and the email platforms at the workplace.
Employees tend to accept this act as an intrusion into their privacy however it is an acceptable code of ethics which is adapted and implemented by all the Organizations as per the regulations of Law.
Employees, as a result, suffer a lower self – confidence when monitored in their work place because of the right to privacy.
The activities of the Employees in the work place are monitored to an extent which includes their email and their technological communication using any of the devices including their mobile phones and computers. Some of the Employees activities are not monitored till date like their personal cupboards and personal belongings in their lockers.
Email communication and the communication especially using the company’s properties are critical as they are meant to be used for conducting their official duties in the first place and they are not intended for conducting communication to their personal sources Monthly Labour Review (2003 p -2).
When the company’s property is used as the media of communicating, the company has every right to monitor and curtail any of the communication being passed. Most of the Corporates have a specific email monitoring system in place where they retain a copy of the email while they are sent to the other systems in order to monitor the productivity of the message being passed and also to keep a track of the illegal issues which might have been taking place Monthly Labour Review (2003 p -2).
This fact has been proven in most of the wrong – doings where the misconduct has been traced and confirmed based on the email messages being passed from their official systems to the personal systems Managers (2008). Apart from the communication being sent through email messages there have been cases of misconduct which have been traced in the form of customer information and personal details in terms of their banking account information Managers (2008).
The technological revolution has provided the employee force with immense benefits of work around where they can take work home and support their official work being away from the premises. This provision has transformed the ways in which people presume about their work and they instantaneously feel the power of being independent where this would also secure a seat in their minds that they are free to do their work in their own way and they can also take decisions.
This, in short has given the provision for the employees to escape from long working hours at their office. In this connection, there were some recent surveys which have been conducted in some of the work places in order to gauge the opinions on Internet and email.
Amongst the population which has participated in the employee survey, 87% of the employees have declared that they find it genuine to attend to their personal technological needs at their work places and 55% of them have declared that they should be given a good proportion of time on a daily basis in order to attend to their personal work. With these percentages being reported, there are almost 83 – 85 % of the Employees who spend a whopping 50 – 55% of their work time attending to personal email and communication related work (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2006).
Within these numbers, 55% of the Employees that they could not deliver their 100% potential being distracted at work (Monthly labour review 2003, P – 2).
A similar survey conducted for the Employers have also revealed almost similar numbers where 83 – 85% of the Employers felt that the Employees can be allowed to go through their personal stuff of communication at work. This provides us an insight into the cases of misconduct which happen in the Organizations especially in terms of data breach and customer data records collection. Among these employers, 30 – 31% of them have reported that they monitored their employer’s email communication at work and through official systems (Monthly labour review 2003, P – 2).
A large proportion of the employees have an impression that they should not be monitored though it could be their official mail. The proof of evidence from a legal standpoint is different where the law has confirmed that the right of the employees to use their personal email and personal communication does not exist in the official premises (Blunn 2005). The law does not see a need for the employees to conduct their personal work in the official environment and had permitted the Organizations to monitor their official communication (Office of the Privacy Commissioner 2007).
There were cases especially in the Banking sectors where the Employees have sent official data through personal email and it has created a large chaos in terms of outsourcing business to some of the Countries in the world (wbcoft 2008 p- 3). There was also a case of the Pillsbury company where the company management was sued by a former employee that the company had an inappropriate mechanism of communication system in their Organization (Monthly labour review 2003, P – 2).
The email communication system which is provided in any Organization is intended to promote the internal communication between the employees across various sites and also with their Clients and Support employees. All the Organizations promote a code of ethics and code of conduct where it is explained to the employees during their induction to the Company that they should follow the codes of ethics within the Company and they should not violate any of the laws and practices.
The Companies also communicate to their employees through a disclaimer that all the communication is private and confidential and should essentially be treated in a confidential way. The Companies also communicate the consequences of violation of any of the Company’s policies in their codes of practice in order to ensure that the Employees are well aware of the breach of their code of conduct (Monthly labour review 2003, P – 3).
With due consideration of the legal regulations and policies with relation to the Organization’s communication system, I feel that there should be a mechanism where the Organizations can change their codes of practice to an extent where they can have a check balance in place in order to monitor the critical words being used, data being transmitted in terms of financial data and financial records and customer information.
With the introduction of such policies, the Company would also contribute to engaging their Employees at their work place and in contributing to their work life balance which is the main factor of attracting the Employees in most of the Organizations in the present times(Mitrou & Karyda 2006).
With a close monitoring of the type of communication and the data, the Organizations would be able to meet their legal standards however permitting their employees to cater to their personal needs as well (Anderson 2006).
This allows us to reflect on the hypothetical statement of the case considered that the Employees, as a result will not suffer a lower self – confidence when monitored in their work place because of the right to privacy and in turn they will also develop a right to protect their Organizational policies.
This in addition also proves to be in support of the ACS code where the ACS values are intended to enhance the quality of life of the Employees apart from framing the codes of professional conduct (ACS 2014 p – 5).
The cases we have considered and the insights of details have given us an understanding that the Employers have the rights to frame their codes of conduct in terms of monitoring the communication messages using the official technical systems. The Employees are given protection of their personal data in some situations like their laws of contract (Privacy rights 2016). It is critical that the Employers mention to the Employees about their policies of conduct and get them agreed to them in order to avoid any of the unavoidable situations in future. All this information can be shared with the employees through hand books and contracts where they can keep them and the information can be shared with the peers constantly in meetings or any of the Company’s internal trainings (Privacy rights 2016).
ACS 2014, ACS Code of Professional Conduct, Viewed on August 24th 2016, https://www.acs.org.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0014/4901/Code-of-Professional-Conduct_v2.1.pdf
Anderson, Sandra M 2006, Alberta’s Statutory Privacy Regime and its Impact on the Workplace, 43 Alberta Law Review 647.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Social Trends – 2006, Trends in Hours Worked (Cat no. 4102.0)
Blunn, Anthony S 2005, Report of the Review of the Regulation of Access to Communication, Public Affairs Unit, Australian Government Attorney – General’s Department
Chadwick, Paul 2006, The Value of Privacy, Law Week address at the State Library of Victoria, Future of Journalism Summit, Melbourne.
Charles J. Muhi 2003, Workplace e- mail and Internet use: Employees and Employers beware, Monthly Labour Review, Viewed on August 24th 2016, https://www.bls.gov/opub/mlr/2003/02/art3full.pdf
Privacy rights 2016, Workplace Privacy and Employee Monitoring, Viewed on August 24th 2016, https://www.privacyrights.org/workplace-privacy-and-employee-monitoring
Wbcoft 2008, Workplace Fraud, Viewed on August 24th 2016, https://www.wbcoft.org.uk/Attachments/Articles/Employment/Workplace%20Fraud.pdf
Mitrou, Lilian and Karyda, Maria 2006, Employees Privacy vs Employers Security: Can they be balanced, 23 Telematics and Informatics 164.
Office of the Privacy Commissioner 2007, The Operation of the Privacy Act Annual Report, 1st July 2006.
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