The simple answer is, Yes, it is entirely legitimate in the below circumstances.
· To keep your staff secure by trying to prevent violence or theft;
· To prevent deliberate damage to property
· As a record to prove that health and safety procedures are being followed;
· To monitor productivity;
· To comply with regulatory requirements in some sectors (eg financial services).
Ensure you respect the law
When you do use CCTV within your business you will need to follow these three areas of the law. Firstly, employers cannot act in any way that could destroy or damage the trust and confidence that has been built up between an employer and employee. If they do, the constructive dismissal coud be used.
There are Data Protection Laws which regulate how employers can collect and process personal data on employees, this includes video footage that has been recorded via CCTV cameras. These Data Protection Laws allow employees the right to ask employers to enclose what data they have stored of theirs and also why it has been collected. Also, be sure to know how long you can legally hold on to this data, as there is a time limit on how long you can hold on to it and to when it needs to be deleted.
As an employer you should be respectful of your employees' rights to privacy under the human rights law by ensuring CCTV monitoring is not seen as prying on your employees.
There is a Government surveillance camera code of practice self-assessment tool. Therefore, if your business uses surveillance cameras, be sue to use the tool to see how you are complying with the surveillance camera code of practice's 12 principles.
Consultation with employees
To avoid any legal problems, unless you're using CCTV in particular circumstances (eg to detect a crime or catch and prosecute those responsible) or to comply with a regulatory requirement, ideally you should let your employees know that you are recording them and why, plus the nature of the recording, then how you plan on using the information obtained and how their rights will be protected.
You should then allow your employees the opportunity to voice their concerns. Once this has been done, ideally you will have your company procedures and practices in writing and this document will be available for your employees to view.
The Information Commissioner's Office Employment Practices Code contains further detailed guidance and recommendations including a CCTV checklist.
Filming in Secret
Recording your employees in secret is something that should be avoided except in exceptional circumstances, such as to stop serious crime. If you do need to go down this route then the senior management should only have access to the data and for a strict period of time. CCTV should only be used in locations where the need is heightened by the threat of serious crime or injury.
You can now see that having CCTV within your workplace can be a problematic and we recommend that you do seek the advice from legal experts within this field.
If you do want to have a friendly chat about privacy issues online, or otherwise, please do feel free to contact Darren at Green Arrrow Consultancy today and he will be able to talk you through any privacy concerns that you have.