Human Rights Act affecting privacy in the workplace - Answers Investigation

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Human Rights Act

The implications of the HRA in surveillance and investigation. Telephone 020 7158 0332 or Email

Human Rights Act 1988

Human Rights Act
affecting privacy in the workplace

The Human Rights Act gives employees rights to privacy in the workplace

Monitoring of Communications

OFTEL has issued guidelines on the monitoring of communications in the work place including personal telephone calls, email and internet usage:

Contracts of Employment or Employee Handbooks should clearly state that regular monitoring of telephone calls, internet and email will occur. It should be stated that unauthorised use equates to gross misconduct, possibly justifying dismissal;

Employers should provide alternate access to telephones - perhaps payphones - that are certified clear from any form of recording or monitoring

Surveillance and searches in the Workplace

Employees should be made aware if their employer requires rights of search, and that searches or inspections may be made on regular or irregular occasions

Employees should be advised if CCTV cameras are in operation, regardless of the reason for their placement, whether for security, health & safety or protection of employers/employees interests

Medical Testing

Issues relating to mandatory testing feature extensively in the act:

Employers cannot force medical testingon an employee - the employee's consent is required for it to take place

If the employer wishes to carry out medical testing, this must be stated in the contract of employment, including testing for drugs and alcohol

It should be made clear that abuse of drugs or alcohol is a disciplinary matter, as should the employer's rights to summarily dismiss on the grounds of gross misconduct

  • If an employee consents to testing and the test result is positive, the employer will probably be justified in dismissing on the basis of the employee being a threat to public safety, or to the employer's business;
  • If an employee does not consent, the employer may still have the right to dismiss if reasonable grounds for suspicion that the employee's behaviour may constitute a similar threat - and of course the employee can not then rely on the fact that they have not been tested as he or she will not have provided consent
  • These notes constitute a brief outline of ways in which the HRA affects employee relations and possibly the work we do for you. Please contact us if there are implications you would like to discuss

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