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My employer is using CCTV to monitor me at work. Is this legal?

Employers are permitted to monitor workers in so far as this is necessary and proportionate to management’s reasons for so doing. CCTV monitoring at the workplace is often undertaken for security reasons and in most circumstances is viewed as reasonable. If the surveillance was excessive, the implications may vary depending on whether your employer is a public or private body or individual.

Under the Data Protection Act any CCTV monitoring must normally be open and there should be good reasons for your employer or others to do it. Your employer should carry out an assessment of its effects before allowing its use.

In general, if employees feel that the use of CCTV is intrusive they can ask their union (if relevant) to assist. Expressing your concerns to your employer and seeking to compromise may be the easiest way to resolve the situation.

My Employer is a Public Body

If your employer is a public body, they have an obligation to respect your right to privacy (Article 8) under the Human Rights Act 1998 (HRA). However, this right is a qualified right, which means that it may be interfered with when such interference is in accordance with law, for a legitimate purpose (e.g. to prevent crime, for public safety) and the interference is proportionate in trying to achieve the necessary aim. For example, in some situations, CCTV cameras may be necessary for security reasons in certain places. They may also be used to investigate and prevent crimes. An example of disproportionate use may arguably be where cameras were put in toilets or changing rooms.

My Employer is a Private Organisation

If your employer is a private organisation or company, then you cannot directly rely on the HRA. However, in all contracts of employment, there is an implied term that employers will not without reasonable and proper cause conduct themselves in a manner calculated or likely to destroy, or seriously damage, the relationship of confidence and trust between themselves and employees. However, it is unlikely that CCTV cameras in obvious places in the workplace would breach this implied term.

Ultimately, there is very little to stop employers making recordings. The placement and retention of footage must be in accordance with regulations under the Data Protection Act 1998. You can contact the Information Commissioner by telephoning 01625 545 740 for more information.
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