Interested in setting up an employee monitoring policy?
An employee monitoring policy helps keep an eye on your employees’ activity and boost workplace productivity by clearly addressing any privacy concerns.
In this article, we’ll lay out precisely why you, as an employer, need an employee monitoring policy for your workplace as well as what to include in your company policy.
We’ll even give you a sample employee monitoring policy, so that you know where to begin when creating your own monitoring policy about workplace surveillance.
This Article Contains:
(Click on a link below to jump to a specific section)
- What is an employee monitoring policy?
- What should an employee monitoring policy contain?
- A free employee monitoring policy template
- Two key reasons why your business needs an employee monitoring policy
Let’s get started.
What is an Employee Monitoring Policy?
Note: The first few sections cover the basics of monitoring policies and what they should cover, if you want to skip ahead to the template, click here.
Employee monitoring policies help a business or employer protect themselves, and their employees and clients, from legal issues around employee monitoring in the workplace.
These policies also deal with how the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) will operate while at work, and all other instances of employee privacy.
Employee monitoring policies clearly explain when, where, and why employee monitoring is in place. This open communication increases employee morale and gives employees clarity around job expectations and privacy while at work.
What Should an Employee Monitoring Policy Contain?
Here are some essential sections for an employee monitoring policy:
This is where you’ll explain to your employee why you’re implementing an employee monitoring policy in the workplace and the monitoring software you’d be using.
The point is to ensure that employee monitoring is done legally and with integrity to protect the privacy of the employee.
Mention the benefits of employee monitoring to the employee — such as workplace security or improved productivity.
Be as detailed as possible in this section as you need to make sure that your employees feel comfortable about workplace monitoring.
Here, you explain who the employee monitoring policy applies to. This includes employees, freelancers and any paid or voluntary members of the company, or anyone else who may have their privacy affected when working with the company.
C. Types Of Monitoring
Explain the types of employee monitoring and workplace monitoring systems that you’ll be using.
Mention the type of surveillance, why you’re using it, when it’ll be used in the workplace, and how it’ll impact the employees’ privacy. Also mention if it will be used for any remote work.
Here’s a quick look at three common monitoring systems:
1. Camera Surveillance
Cameras can be used as an employee monitoring tool and set up in parking lots, break rooms, personal offices and various other rooms in the workplace. However, it shouldn’t be used in areas where employees deserve personal privacy, such as restrooms.
2. Computer Surveillance
This includes an employee monitoring software which monitors what employees are doing on a company computer and checks up on internet usage and activity.
A great example of an employee-friendly productivity tracking tool is Time Doctor, which can be easily installed on an employees’ computer.
You also have tools with keystroke logging features, which record what employees are typing during work hours. However, such an employee monitoring program is often seen as a privacy invasion as sensitive data could be captured while typing.
Note: Time Doctor isn’t a keylogger as it respects an employee’s privacy.
Computer surveillance and internet monitoring can also be used to see if any illegal activity or communication is taking place, which could lead to legal repercussions for the company. Be transparent about how computer surveillance can impact employee privacy in their work lives.
3. GPS Tracking Surveillance
This type of employee monitoring would be used for employee tracking, such as when an employee needs to drive for work (such as a delivery driver, or a taxi), to make sure that they are sticking to the correct routes and not taking long breaks or detours.
Monitoring employees while they drive can also ensure the safety of a client or customer if they are in the vehicle. However, make sure to include why you are using this employee tracking solution and that it’s only for business purposes.
D. Data Collection
Clarify what the employee monitoring solution will collect and record, as well as how these monitoring practices will impact the privacy of the employee. It’s also important to say how the collected data will be stored for the employees’ data security.
The data collected by an employee monitoring solution could be anything like:
- Employee emails or instant messaging communication.
- Recordings of camera surveillance.
- Hours spent on the internet or social media during work time.
Mention the purpose of the data collection and what will happen to the data (an employees’ confidential information) long term and when they leave the company.
This is also important if you use the data for analysis by a third-party or an internal team member. In such cases, the employee monitoring policy must include how and why surveillance data is analyzed.
At the end of the employee monitoring policy, there must be a place for the employee, the company/ employer and witnesses to sign. This protects all involved parties from any legal disputes around employee monitoring and binds them to the monitoring policy.
It shows that the employees are aware of being monitored in the workplace and that they understand the reasonable expectation of employee privacy.
And if the way in which the company or employer is monitoring employees changes at all, the employee monitoring policy will need to be adjusted accordingly, and signed again by all parties involved.
A Sample Employee Monitoring Policy Template
Now that we’ve covered the basics, here’s a sample template to help you get started instantly. As it covers both remote and in-office monitoring practices, you can customize it according to your needs.
(A downloadable version of this policy is available at the end of this section.)
A. Introduction and Purpose of the Policy
This is an employee monitoring policy for [company name] and explains how and why [company name] will be taking steps to monitor employees.
[company name] will be monitoring employees who are using company computers with the programme X which will record employee time spent on a company computer in order to ensure employee productivity.
[company name] will also use monitoring software to track all electronic communication, employee communications and employee emails sent and received on a company computer.
[company name] will also use camera surveillance for employee monitoring in all public areas of the office building. [company name] is taking these steps to prevent violence, theft, injury and/or illegal activity in the office and to increase employee productivity. [company name] is using camera surveillance to protect both the company and the employees.
[company name] is taking these steps to safeguard the employers paid time, as well as to increase productivity. In order to do this, [company name] asks for employee consent.
This employee monitoring policy and all employee monitoring practices apply to all employees, both part time and full time, and freelancers employed by [company name].
C. Types Of Surveillance
Here’s what [company name] will be using to monitor employee activity:
1. Computer surveillance
[company name] will use an employee monitoring system called X when monitoring employee activity on company computers during working hours.
[company name] reserves the right to use X to track work hours, internet usage, social media and instant messaging, and employee productivity.
[company name] is doing this to prevent illegal activity or internet use on the computer as well as to boost employee performance and productivity.
Legal action will be taken for any inappropriate employee activity or communication and if any illegal or suspicious files are found, such as ( but not limited to) pornography, documents containing company trade secrets, bribery, innappropriate media etc.
The company’s monitoring practices are in place to ensure the safety of all those involved in the company and to prevent illegal activity.
2. Camera surveillance
In order to protect the company, employees and clients from violence, theft, or any other illegal activity, [company name] will use video surveillance as an employee monitoring system to record and monitor the office building.
Furthermore, all video surveillance footage will be saved and stored digitally on the premises, for up to a period of three years, and thereafter disposed of, regardless of whether or not an employee leaves the company.
Cameras will be used for employee monitoring in the:
- Parking lots (both outdoor and underground).
- All shared office space and personal offices.
- Break rooms, all hallways and passages.
No cameras will be used in bathrooms or locker rooms in order to protect employee privacy.
No cameras or other types of recording surveillance will be used to film a remote employee.
Cameras will operate twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, including holidays and when the office buildings are closed.
[company name] is taking these steps to ensure the safety of the company property and for the safety of all employees, staff and clients.
Note: This doesn’t apply to remote employees.
3. Tracking surveillance
[company name] will use GPS tracking surveillance for employee monitoring in all company-owned vehicles.
[company name] does this to ensure that delivery drivers are using the recommended routes, that they are not doing personal errands while on company time, and that they are not taking unauthorized breaks.
[company name] is also doing this to ensure the safety of delivery drivers while working and to optimise routes and timeliness of deliveries.
[company name] will switch off the GPS outside of work hours to protect employee privacy and to adhere to workplace privacy laws, unless it is an emergency or is required by law enforcement for legal disputes.
This is including but not limited to situations like if an employee is missing, if an employee is using the company vehicle as a taxi, and any illegal employee behaviour.
Note: This doesn’t apply to a remote employee.
D. Data Collection
Data collected from employee monitoring by [company name] will include:
- Recorded video surveillance and any other workplace monitoring done by cameras or any other software will be stored digitally at the workplace for a period of up to three years.
- Any and all information obtained by the computer software will be stored digitally on the premises for up to a period of three years.
- Hours spent on the internet, social media and/or instant messaging by employees during work hours.
- Any and all information obtained by the GPS Tracking system or other tracking software will be recorded and stored for a period of up to three years.
Data collected by such monitoring tools by [company name] will be used for:
- Data analysis by outside contractors. This is for the purpose of optimizing employee time and company systems such as (but not limited to) delivery routes or time spent writing emails.
- Legal coverage for both the benefit of the in-house employee, the remote employee, the employer and the company.
I have read and understood the contents laid out in this document which are outlined in this employee monitoring policy.
[company name] Representative:
Place of signing:
Disclaimer: This template is only meant to provide a general guide, and can only be used as a reference. This template may not account for local laws, state laws or federal laws and other applicable laws, and should not be considered a legal document. Neither the author nor Time Doctor will assume any legal liability that may arise from the use of this sample employee monitoring policy.
Two Key Reasons Why Your Business Needs an Employee Monitoring Policy
To help you understand things better, here are two key reasons to implement an employee monitoring policy:
1. Company Transparency
In all professional relationships, transparency increases trust, and this includes the employer-employee dynamic.
When employees know when, how, and where monitoring is taking place, they’ll feel safer and more secure in their environment, which will increase employee productivity and ensure good employee morale.
Company transparency also ensures that companies are legally covered by privacy laws when monitoring their employees, and that the reasonable expectation of privacy law is taken care of.
2. Prevents Misuse of Company Resources
We already covered how an employee monitoring policy and monitoring software help prevent the misuse of one of the companies biggest resources: time.
However, a good monitoring policy can also prevent the misuse of other business-related resources in the workplace, like company vehicles, office space, computers or technology.
While employee monitoring can benefit both the company and the staff, it’s important to have a solid monitoring policy in place that can protect the company from any legal issues and to keep in line with current workplace privacy laws.
Though this may seem like a lot of effort, time, and expense, the benefits are undeniable.
Use the tips and templates we covered here to set up a safe and effective employee monitoring policy. Once that’s done, you can monitor employee activity without having to deal with any legal issues.
Liam Martin is the co-founder of Time Doctor—one of the world’s leading time tracking software for remote teams. He is also the co-organizer of Running Remote, the world’s largest remote work conference.