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Employee monitoring - what is employers allowed and what is prohibited?

Workers spend most of the day at work during the week - at least if you are employed full-time. That means: you often sit at least eight hours in front of her computer, she bakes bread or advises customers in clothing stores. According to labor law, they receive for the fulfillment of the tasks assigned to them, remuneration that virtually compensates them for the time they have spent.

In a nutshell: employee monitoring

Is employee monitoring generally permitted?

Employees are only allowed to work on the basis of legal requirements such as B. the Federal Data Protection Act are monitored. Often the whole thing is only allowed if the employees concerned have given their consent in advance.

What is the purpose of employee monitoring?

Read here why employers decide, among other things, to monitor their employees. One of the most common reasons is probably to check working hours.

What can employers expect who do not adhere to the regulations on employee monitoring?

If employers do not adhere to the provisions of the legislature, you can face imprisonment in the worst case.

Specific information on employee monitoring:

Video surveillance in the workplace

Find out in this guide when employee monitoring by camera is permitted.

GPS monitoring of employees

We explain the circumstances under which GPS monitoring of employees is permitted.

Wiretapping at work

Is there a way for employers to legally bug their employees in the workplace?

PC monitoring in the workplace

Can employers monitor their employees' computers?

Whether they are doing the show the necessary care and do everything right, many employers doubt and therefore have their employees monitored. In this way, your own career can experience a dampener faster than desired.

In this context, it is important to clarify: How far can a company go when it comes to employee monitoring? Which measures do employees have to accept and where does the boss go too far? Information on these and other questions can be found in this article. It also lists in detail what the Federal Data Protection Act says about the commissioning of third parties to monitor employees.

Headlines around employee monitoring

That employers don't trust their employees, and therefore they do sometimes also - without your consent only on suspicion - control and spy on, is well known to many people in Germany. After all, some of these illegal employee surveillance scandals have already been in the press.

  1. LIDL

The gained nationwide recognition in the matter of workplace surveillance LIDL food discounter in the past. For years the company collected information about how its employees behaved in the workplace without causeAnd they didn't shy away from using one or the other detective to help record who was in the toilet for how long and when and which employees had a special relationship with each other.

In addition to virtually invisible cameras, they also use voice recording devices to document processes very specifically. Needless to say that Workers not privy to this action were.

  • The German train
    Deutsche Bahn has also become conspicuous in the past due to the extensive monitoring of its employees. In 2009 journalists uncovered: This was not just about Monitoring senior workers but also their spouseswhich were then forwarded to private investigators by mirroring the hard drives of the affected employees who Verification of your account activity and the transfer of data from your personal area has violated the applicable data protection regulations because it transmitted without consent were. These measures were justified by the fact that Reduce corruption in the company to want.
  • Media Markt
    In the Braunschweig district she took Employee control at the workplace in a Media Markt branch whimsical shapes. Here threatened - according to the Braunschweiger Zeitung - the Management to have a genetic test carried out on employees. The reason for this letter was a regularly contaminated toilet door, which caused heated emotions.
  • What is the purpose of surveillance in the workplace?

    The reports outlined above show: Companies use employee monitoring for very different reasons.

    • Some companies want check whether employees actually keep their working hours and do not unduly prolong their breaks.
    • Others aim at the determine the exact whereabouts of their employeeswhich is particularly interesting for people in the field. But even employees celebrating sick can be tracked down in this way.
    • In certain companies it is Theft of company property a big issue. Employee monitoring can also be used to find out why stocks are dwindling.
    • Uses the employee the internet connection provided actually only for business purposes or does he read the newspaper every day instead of working? This can also be researched through employee monitoring.
    • And finally, that is precisely in service professions Quality of advice usually of high relevance. Some surveillance focuses on how friendly and competent the customer is.
    The monitoring of employees can be based on the most varied of motivations. Either because Their performance is to be put to the test or misconduct is to be uncovered. The monitored do not have to put up with all of the measures taken by their employer. Under certain circumstances they have the right to fight back.

    What types of employee monitoring are there?

    The Employee behavior can be spied on in a variety of ways become. Companies and commissioned detective agencies usually make use of the technical possibilities.

    Finally are Cameras and microphones have become smaller and smaller and therefore more difficult to recognize in recent years.

    A classic that is often not missing in employee monitoring is the good old one Observation - also called observation. By looking carefully and sticking to your heels, you can so many employees who were registered as incapacitated or thieves were convicted become.

    Video surveillance - is that legal?

    One special efficient way of employee monitoring represents the recording of events in the office or storage room. Finally, must no person will be hired who follows employees at every turn. The cameras record who has done what, when, and with whom in the monitored area.

    A distinction must be made between:

    • public and obvious video surveillance, thanks to cameras that are clearly visible to everyone
    • and the covert recording through virtually invisible devices

    The law in Germany only permits the observation of employees via camera surveillance under very specific circumstances, because: The recording makes it Personal rights of the monitored clearly affected and possibly even impaired.

    In this country it is Data protection is a big issue. Basically: In Rooms that are open to the public, in which not only employees frequent, a Monitoring by video camera take place when the employer takes a Prove legitimate interest in this can and it at the same time no milder means gives.

    Is filmed in public spaces Refrain from recording the sound and there must be signs indicating this.

    If an employer suspects an employeeto have been guilty of misconduct or a To have committed a crime, then may under the same conditions, however only briefly and as an exception, a secret video surveillance was carried out become.

    Certain Rooms are always excluded from employee monitoring. It refers to:

    1. The toilets
    2. Locker rooms
    3. Dormitories
    4. the sanitary facilities

    GPS monitoring in the workplace

    The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a really useful technique in many ways. It locates athletes and records the distance they have traveled, so that drivers can get there Orientate yourself to unknown places thanks to GPS-based navigation devices and always find the right way. Employers have already registered these advantages and use the system, among other things, to optimize the delivery of goods in terms of time.

    But can an employer monitor its employees like this? Finally are all paths covered are immediately comprehensible. The Federal Data Protection Act provides Information that links people and locations, as personal data at. These are subject to special legal protection, since a movement profile could possibly be created from this.

    Basically the use of GPS technology permitted if the required legal provisions (including the Federal Data Protection Act - BDSG) are complied with. Even if the If those affected agree to the employee monitoring, the tracking of the position may be permitted.

    Caution: What cannot be recorded here is, among other things, when a driver took a break and how fast he drove.

    Before an employer decides to use such a measure, the Weighing the employee's personal rights against the interests of a company.

    PC monitoring by the employer

    If you work in an office and mostly at your desk, you know that your fingers itch during your daily work, To follow a particularly exciting article and to satisfy your own curiosity. By signing the employment contract, however, you have undertaken to fulfill your obligations, which - depending on the negotiated conditions - sometimes also say: The use of the Internet for private purposes is not permitted.

    Not every employer relies on your word or your signature, but rather uses employee monitoring for the sake of security. But is it allowed to monitor employees on the PC?

    An important keyword in this context is that informational self-determination of employees. It says: It is forbidden for your boss to monitor your activities around the clock in the workplace.

    To be able to understand why you use your work PC all day long, employers can use very different measures.

    • It can be on your computer Program to be played that creates a screenshot in a certain cycle (spy software).
    • The browser history, by doing visited websites and the corresponding time is saved, can be viewed after work.

    A fundamental distinction must be made as to whether an employment contract or a service agreement allows private use of the Internet. For example, if you are allowed to use your computer during your break to check personal e-mails or visit online portals, it must be Consider telecommunications secrecy. Employee monitoring is carried out by the in Section 88 of the Telecommunications Act listed specifications are limited.

    The situation is different if private use of the World Wide Web is not permitted at work. In this case are allowed Some employee PCs are randomly screened to check whether they are behaving in accordance with the contract. Is there a Works council, this must be informed of this prior to initiating employee monitoring. This is based on Section 87 (6) of the Works Constitution Act (BetrVG).

    If there is no statutory or collective agreement, the works council has a say in the following matters: […] Introduction and use of technical facilities that are designed to monitor the behavior or performance of employees. ”(Section 87 BerTG).

    Control in the workplace - eavesdropping on employees

    As is almost always the case in employee monitoring, the following applies: The employee must give its approval or a law must approve the desired measures. Only then can your boss start monitoring - and that both in terms of content and metadata (i.e. when the call came in or out, how long it lasted, etc.).

    If employers want to monitor phone usage, they are faced with fewer major hurdles when collecting and storing metadata than when evaluating the content of the conversation.

    Because: In principle, telephone conversations are subject to the confidentiality of the word. Your boss may therefore be prohibited from eavesdropping on you or from recording what you have spoken.

    Attention: Provided that the Employee has agreed to the telephone monitoring, as an employer, you should also consider: Both the person making the phone call and the person called must agree to the eavesdropping. This is usually not the case for private calls, which is why employee monitoring is not permitted here.

    Whether you as an employee must therefore expect your calls on the phone to be monitored, emerges from the conditions in your employment contract, among other things. Anyone who is also allowed to use the work phone for private purposes does not have to expect a listener when talking to their partner or children. But you shouldn't exhaust this privilege: Who telephones frequently and extensively and neglecting his work, must Expect to receive an extraordinary termination.

    What are the consequences if the illegal employee surveillance is exposed?

    If it turns out that an employer has illegally used employee surveillance to spy on its employees, those affected can insist on very different penalties.

    • who intentionally or negligently collects or processes non-public personal data without authorization, commits an administrative offense. In this case you have to use a Fine of up to 300,000 euros be expected. It is to fear a prison sentence of up to two yearsif the act was carried out deliberately and against remuneration or if the monitored person was to be harmed as a result.
    • Because of the unauthorized video or telephone surveillance, employees can move to a labor court to move Compensation for pain and suffering due to the violation of their personal rights to demand.
    • Draws a video camera that has been installed for employee monitoring, illegally also audio tracks on, then it is a question of one Offense. The Criminal Code (StGB) provides a for this violation Fine or imprisonment of up to three years in front. This applies to those who do not record public conversations as well as those who pass on these recordings. Also the Attempt is already punishable, as this violates the confidentiality of the word.

    Have you fallen victim to improper employee monitoring? You can do that

    The computer no longer behaves as usual or there is a crack in the line during your phone calls? If with you with time one feeling uneasy creeps in and you think you are being monitored by your employer, then these tips can be helpful:

    • Take Contact the works council if the company you work for has one. He usually knows about any monitoring measures and gives you information.
    • The alternative contact person can also be Data protection officer of the company be.
    • The federal states also have Commissioner for data protection and freedom of information certainly. You can therefore address your questions to these offices.
    • And finally, of course, it always says a lawyer specializing in labor law to disposal. This informs you about your options to have the violations of your personal rights made up for.
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    Employee monitoring - what is employers allowed and what is prohibited?
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