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Legal and ethical employee monitoring issues

Granted- The worst thing an employer would like to see is their employee surfing inappropriate websites, taking part in stock trades or planning poker when they should be working. However, this should be done within reason. When involved in an employee monitoring software which includes mobile tracking; it’s important not for any employer to run into controversy issues while in the process.

What is considered illegal?

Personal computer searches
Employers are allowed to keep tabs on their employees during their active work hours. However, conducting search on non-employee provided computers is generally violating an employee right to privacy.

Checkup of personal property, desks and lockers
While some companies have privacy concern expectations, others do not. An employer who conducts searches on their employee’s personal property is violating the employee’s constitutional right.

Monitoring private phone calls
Employers have every right to monitor their business calls but those who go overboard and listen in on their employees phone calls is considered illegal.

Monitoring emails
While federal law prohibits the interception of email communications that are in transit but it doesn't prohibit the monitoring of email in storage. Therefore employers should only stick to business transactions. Reviewing emails is known to be the number one activity that causes sexual harassment in the work place.

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Organization created employee monitoring because there was a substantial need for organizations to monitor their workforce. Obviously, if a business owner doesn't take action to stop counterproductive activities, they certainly won’t stay in business. The enormity of potential productivity losses is said to be about one million dollars annually if undo employee spends about two hours a day on the internet for leisure surfing purposes.

The ethical side of it:
Even with changing times, ethical and morality issues seems to be slowly deteriorating. Employee monitoring systems have come with the advent of social looting; this is the tendency of individuals to expand less when working collectively rather than individually. This has caused many-an-employee to become insecure.

Therefore, employee monitoring ethics applies both to employer and workers. However, ethical behaviors-either good or bad are pivotal to an organizational overall success. In an ethical viewpoint, a code of conduct should be employed. Anything that needs to be done should be well communicated first. Both employers and employees need to understand laws and policies of employee monitoring before venturing into it. If everyone understands the ground rules and the playing field then the work environment will be fairer. On the hindsight, if an employee is being ethical by informing the employees about the fact of phone tracking, they should not be concerned with monitoring activities. Only mischievous and incompetent employees have cause for alarm. However, establishing trust from both ends is a great stopping stone to a happy working environment-monitoring or not!