Legal issues with installing cameras in the office?

Having security cameras in an office is becoming more and more common, and for good reason. Having cameras can deter thieves and other illegal activities taking place in the work space. They can also offer you and your employees’ peace of mind if you are worried about security breaches. There are some issues and questions that people are asking with regards to the legality of this practice. Hopefully this article will help alleviate any concerns that you may be facing, if you are thinking about using security cameras in your office space. If your workplace has been or faces the risk of being a target for crime (think banks) then surveillance cameras are the best way to provide evidence if anything should happen. This will help protect you, your employees and can also be useful in insurance claims, as they will often ask for evidence.

Legal issues with installing cameras in the office?

Proper reasons for security cameras

Before installing cameras in the workplace, you must make sure that you are doing so for the proper reasons. These include things like watching what your employees are doing whilst they’re on shift – making sure they’re not undertaking any illegal activities or activities which could be considered hazardous to other employees or members of the public. Installing cameras can also help to prevent your employees from stealing from the company. If there are safes or tills which are kept in the workplace, this is a surprisingly common issue. In the same vein, having visible cameras can also deter theft from members of the public. Make sure that you are aware of what individual requirement your workplace needs – if you don’t deal with members of the public then putting cameras on the outside of the building will not make much difference. This is especially important if you are concerned about your employee’s wellbeing and want to make sure they are fully protected if an incident should occur.

Improper reasons

However, you must be aware that where you place your surveillance equipment is important – as the location of the cameras can make the difference between legal and illegal surveillance of employees. For obvious reasons, bathrooms, toilets and shower rooms are off limits – you wouldn’t want anyone filming you doing those things, would you? Other places may include but aren’t limited to staff rooms, locker rooms, break rooms. Any place which is considered to be breaching your employees’ privacy will generally not be allowed. It is worth checking out the policies in your particular area or if your company has any particular policies that are worth paying attention to. If you place cameras in places which are considered to be a breach of privacy then any evidence you find will be inadmissible in court. So even if you find out that an employee is stealing, you may not be able to use this as evidence to prosecute them. If you are unsure on what considers a breach of privacy, asking your local relevant authority or a solicitor can help as they can point you in the right direction for your area or company.

Audio recording?

While the lists above describe video surveillance only, you may be interested in recording audio as well. This presents another set of problems. The same rules for where you aren’t allowed to place audio recording equipment still stands with regards to not placing them where an employee’s privacy could be compromised – such as break rooms or shower rooms. However, audio recording must only be permitted if you have due cause and obtain a warrant from a judge. This is because it can be considered an infringement of your employees’ privacy so it is always best to seek legal advice if you are thinking about recording audio as well as video.

Extra precautions to consider

If you want to install cameras, you should think about giving your employees notice that they are being filmed. The best way to do this is to provide ample signage all around the area in which cameras are being placed. Another important point about putting signs up is to make sure they are readable from a distance, written in proper English (or the language predominantly used in your office), and have an option to read the sign in braille. Another great way to notify your employees would be to send an email or letter to all those who will be affected, letting them know where the cameras will be placed, when the installation will take place and perhaps the reasoning behind why these cameras are being installed.

Making sure all these above steps are followed, you should be able to install any cameras as you see fit. The installation of security cameras has also shown to make employees more productive – if they know they are being watched they are more likely to show up on time and do more work. This is ideal if you are concerned about the behaviour of your staff and if you aren’t always in the office to make sure they are doing their job. The security cameras are also another way of providing back up to any security measures you already have in place. If you already have alarm systems or security guards then that’s great – but these things can fail. Having security cameras or surveillance equipment provides you with another layer of security to give you peace of mind – whatever your reason for wanting the cameras. As long as you make sure that the reasons you’re installing them are legal and you’re making sure that you are following all proper procedures then you should be fine to use these systems. And if you’re ever in doubt, obtaining free legal advice from your solicitor or the appropriate local authority.