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Workplace surveillance: to CCTV or not to CCTV?

A business utilising closed-circuit television (CCTV) for workplace surveillance will likely have obligations under several laws. If the business is covered by the Privacy Act, the handling of any personal information it collects through the use of surveillance devices will need to comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs).

As a rule, any business using electronic optical surveillance will need to notify employees that their image may be recorded by CCTV. The Privacy Act specifically prohibits surveillance in certain areas. These include change rooms, toilets, showers or bathing facilities at a workplace.

A business also has obligations to ensure any personal information it records about employees is kept secure and is destroyed or de-identified when it is no longer required.

If you have employees covered by a Modern Award, you are obligated to consult with employees around workplace change. This includes major changes in production, program, organisation, structure or technology that is likely to have significant effects on employees.

With something as potentially sensitive as electronic surveillance, best HR practice would be to provide information to the employee group prior to the cameras going live, offer them the opportunity to ask questions and provide a company response to any concerns.

A logical place to start would be to clearly define why a workplace surveillance system is being introduced. Suitable reasons may include:

  • enhance the security of and deter damage to company resources;
  • enhance the safety and security of employees and visitors, particularly in high and medium risk environments, during and outside business hours; and
  • assist in gathering information during an investigation in the event of a health and safety incident and/or unlawful activity.

Having a simple, concise and well drafted Workplace Surveillance policy will also ease concerns of employees.

Bare Bones Consulting has recently drafted Workplace Surveillance policies for two of our valued clients. Our documents are tailored to your industry, employees and operating environment and take into account your specific HR risks and planned future business direction.

When it comes to HR and employment, we make things easy, get it right first time and provide value for money. That’s a lot of smart reasons to use us. Why do it yourself?

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.