Employees shouldn’t expect right to privacy at work

07/17/2014 7:30 AM

08/08/2014 10:25 AM

If it seems like employers don’t trust employees – well, they don’t.

Bad apples in the workplace bunch – or simply the fear of bad apples – have pushed many employers to use an array of employee-tracking devices.

GPS equipment on company vehicles tells where people are at any given moment.

Computer software tracks every website visited using a company computer and blocks some of them.

Video cameras watch employees’ comings and goings.

Supervisors listen in on customer phone calls.

The workplace today is something of a Big Brother world. Workers shouldn’t assume a right to privacy. On company computers, phones or vehicles, there is no right to do what you want when you want.

And that makes perfect sense, said Ivory Thompson, operations manager of Retina-X, the parent company of MobileSpy. Aptly named, that. It’s a software brand used by employers to monitor employees’ online activity.

“Employers want to make sure their employees are doing what they’re supposed to do, that they’re not giving away trade secrets,” Thompson said in an interview. “It’s also for productivity purposes.”

No surprise there. With staffing cut to the bones in many organizations, employers want to make sure that everyone on the payroll pulls his or her intended weight.

Product vendors like Thompson, human resources experts and employment law attorneys all recommend that employees be clearly informed about whatever monitoring a company uses.

“Employees should sign off on it when they’re hired,” Thompson said, and employee manuals should explain the monitoring and use policies.

For the record, here’s MobileSpy’s list of the top 10 industries for employee monitoring:

• Banking and finance
• Software development
• Information technology
• Education
• Logistics and call centers
• Hotels and hospitality
• Hospitals and health care
• Engineering
• Law
• Insurance

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