in Law

Human Resource Management: New Tools in Employee Surveillance

Many employers, aiming to enhance efficiency, have started implementing new tools in human resource management, such as “employee surveillance systems.” These modern technologies allow employers to monitor employee behavior more closely. Common examples include tracking phone communications, email, social media activities, and the implementation of video surveillance.

Balancing Data Processing and Workplace Privacy

It is essential to emphasize that data processing in the workplace must be proportional to the risks faced by the employer. For example, internet misuse can be effectively detected without a detailed analysis of the content of visited websites. If misuse can be prevented using specific internet filters, the employer has no justification for more extensive surveillance.

Video Surveillance: Ensuring Security and Protecting Privacy

Video surveillance, which is gaining increasing importance in the work environment, is used to ensure the security of buildings, employees, visitors, and to protect property and information in the workplace. However, despite its potential benefits, video surveillance significantly impacts employees’ privacy. Therefore, decisions on installing cameras in the workplace and their use should not be made solely for security reasons. Security needs should be balanced with respect for employees’ fundamental rights and freedoms.

Purpose of Surveillance: Monitoring Work Performance, Not Personal Lives

The purpose of surveillance should be focused on monitoring employees’ work performance, not their private interactions. Accordingly, surveillance must be temporally and spatially limited to ensure that only work processes are monitored, minimizing the violation of employees’ privacy. Employers have a legitimate interest in processing employees’ personal data for purposes necessary for the normal development of the employment relationship and business processes. However, employees’ right to privacy must be carefully balanced with the legitimate interests of the employer.

Definition and Rules of Legitimate Interest

Legitimate interest is one of the lawful legal bases (under conditions specified in the Law on Personal Data Protection) for processing personal data. It should not be confused with the purpose of data processing. For legitimate interest to be applied to the processing of personal data, the data controller must analyze relevant aspects of the intended processing to assess whether the conditions specified by the law are met.

Conditions for Applying Legitimate Interest

Conditions for legitimate interest to be a lawful legal basis for processing personal data include the existence of a specific legitimate interest of the data controller or a third party, the necessity of processing, and the prevalence of legitimate interest over the interests or fundamental rights and freedoms of the individuals to whom the data pertains.

Employer’s Obligations in the Surveillance Process

When the employer decides to process data based on legitimate interest, they must create a written document after conducting a prior assessment of legitimate interest. There is no mandatory format for this document. The Commissioner has provided guidelines on their website, outlining steps for assessing the fulfillment of conditions for applying legitimate interest as a legal basis for data processing.

Informing Employees and Surveillance Conditions

The employer must inform employees about the existence of video surveillance, technology, and other techniques used for monitoring, as well as other essential elements of surveillance. Surveillance must have a clearly defined purpose – increasing work efficiency and/or identifying deficiencies in work. Any other actions by the employer would be impermissible and could be subject to legal dispute.