Überwachung am Arbeitsplatz, Überwachungskandal. Spionage, Arbeit, Job, Chef, Homeoffice, Videoüberwachung, GPS-Ortung, Homeoffice

This is how you can tell if your boss is spying

Surveillance scandals are repeatedly mentioned in the media. Since the start of the corona pandemic and the growing number of home offices, workplace surveillance has increased. Because many managers do not trust their employees. But what is legal? And how do you know the boss is spying?

The topic of monitoring in the workplace has played an increasingly important role since the beginning of the corona pandemic and, most recently, the growing home office. But even before that, there were always small and big surveillance scandals. A few years ago, there were more and more cases where companies spied on their employees, especially in retail.

However, software and digitization nowadays offer many managers almost unlimited possibilities to monitor their employees – also and above all in the home office. Just recently, security researchers have one of these, for example application list posted that they are spying on their users.

Surveillance in the workplace: what does labor law allow?

But how far can companies really go? What is allowed by law, what must employees accept and: at what point do superiors go too far? In the following overview, we will also explain how to tell if your boss is watching you.

1. Video surveillance

Video surveillance is considered particularly effective when it comes to spying on employees. The cameras do most of the work and record what, when, with whom and where they are watching. However, the legislator imposes strict rules on companies when it comes to camera surveillance.

The first thing to do is to distinguish between public and overt camera surveillance and covert recordings. On the other hand, camera surveillance of employees is only allowed under certain circumstances because
Personal rights have a high status in Germany.

Camera surveillance can take place, for example, in publicly accessible rooms in which not only employees, but also other people stay. However, this only applies if the employer proves a legitimate interest. In addition, signs must indicate video surveillance and no audio may be recorded.

On the other hand, a secret recording is only permitted if the employer suspects the employee of committing a specific misconduct or crime. However, this is possible only in exceptional cases and for a short period of time. In addition, employees may not be monitored in some rooms. It includes:

  • toilets
  • Locker rooms
  • colleges
  • social facilities in general

2. Spyware

According to a recent studies online marketplace provider Capterra At least 23 percent of German companies use employee monitoring software. 16 percent of those surveyed said they did not know about it. But is tracking employees on PCs allowed at all?

In principle, if an employer expressly allows private use of a work computer, there is no legal basis for monitoring via software. In most cases, however, the employer prohibits or merely tolerates private use, which is not express permission.

If employees do private things on a work PC instead of doing their work during working hours, they are violating their employment contract from a purely legal point of view. However, permanent monitoring of the work computer using the software is not allowed even then.

Employers can monitor their employees on a PC only in case of specific suspicion of misuse. For monitoring that goes beyond random checks, the company must, depending on the project, inform either the employees and the works council or the employees themselves in advance. If bosses or superiors do not comply, they are subject to criminal prosecution.

3. GPS tracking

GPS stands for Global Positioning System. This abbreviation is probably familiar to many, especially in connection with navigation devices. But even though GPS tracking promises many benefits, many companies misuse this technology to track their employees. But is it even allowed?

Employees who work on the road are particularly at risk – for example, employees of delivery services or couriers. Information collected through GPS is considered noisy GDPR but essentially as personal data. They thus enjoy special legal protection.

GPS monitoring is not permitted without the employee’s written consent. But even with employee consent, there are limits to what employers can do. Because from a purely legal point of view, it may only collect data that is considered necessary for operational reasons. This may include, for example, more efficient route planning.

However, the employer may not create comprehensive movement profiles or control when the driver takes a break or how fast he drives. Secret GPS location and tracking is also fundamentally criminal!

4. Listen to calls

When it comes to monitoring employees, companies must either, in principle, obtain the consent of their employees. Otherwise, they can only take certain measures in accordance with the law. As a rule, there must be a suspicion of misuse or an unavoidable operational reason.

The situation is similar when listening to calls at work. Since telephone calls are fundamentally subject to telecommunications secrecy, such access is prohibited. However, there is an exception if employees give their express consent in writing.

Only then can employers review both the content of the conversation and metadata such as conversation length and time. However, this does not apply to the relevant partner. Therefore, private conversations should not be eavesdropped or recorded.

Also interesting:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *