CCTV in the workplace: What you should know
Workplace surveillance laws in New Zealand allow cameras to be used for legitimate business reasons. New Zealand laws surrounding CCTV in the workplace are intended to guide employers while protecting employee’s rights.
CCTV in the workplace can be beneficial for a number of reasons. An employer may decide to install CCTV cameras for the safety of employees, for insurance purposes, protection from theft, or to ensure productivity. An employer must outline the reasons for installing CCTV to all employees at least two weeks before installation.
There’s a lot to look at when considering CCTV surveillance in the workplace including employee rights, data protection, relevant laws, and the upfront and ongoing costs. Let’s look at some of the elements to address when monitoring employees in the workplace.
Is it Legal for Employers to Watch Employees on Camera?
Employers in New Zealand are within their rights to install CCTV in the workplace as long as they inform their employees ahead of time. If surveillance monitoring is used in the workplace the employer must comply with the Employment Relations Act 2000 and the Privacy Act 2020. Under these Act’s, employers can legally monitor employees at work as long as the reason for the monitoring is important enough to the business and within the bounds of the law. It may be reasonable to monitor some activities to ensure staff are doing their work and using resources appropriately. However, employers who conduct surveillance must follow the relevant state or territory laws.
Since employees may feel uncomfortable about being monitored, it’s important to be transparent. Ideally, whatever the employer deems important to monitor needs to be drafted into a clearly prescribed policy and explained to each employee in an easy to understand way. This needs to be conducted at least 14 days before monitoring begins and it is illegal to monitor staff without their knowledge.
Do you have to tell staff about CCTV?
Absolutely yes! In all circumstances, it is imperative to inform staff about any surveillance monitoring in the workplace when they first start with you or at least two weeks prior to installing the security systems. By not informing staff of any reasons for surveillance, the employer is breaking the law.
Can CCTV be used in a disciplinary?
CCTV footage can be used in a disciplinary if the purpose for the CCTV was in place for the action conducted in the disciplinary. For example, if you installed CCTV for the purpose of protecting employee’s safety then you are not legally allowed to use the footage in a disciplinary action about internet usage.
Is it legal to monitor employee internet and social media activities?
It is legal to monitor employees' internet and social media activities in the workplace in New Zealand. However, it is required by law that clear policies on what is deemed appropriate internet etiquette in the workplace and it should be established before monitoring begins. The employees should understand what is expected of them and what their responsibilities are when it comes to internet use during work hours.
In addition to this, you need to make sure that your collection of data is not unlawful, unfair or unreasonably intrusive. For example an employer collecting social media passwords might be considered unfair and unreasonably intrusive. Exactly what is unfair or unreasonably intrusive will depend on the individual circumstances.
What can employers use CCTV for?
There’s a number of reasons you might choose to monitor the workplace with CCTV cameras:
- to keep employees safe and secure by preventing violence or theft;
- to monitor customer movements;
- to prevent pilfering, malingering, deliberate damage, or other misconduct;
- to ensure and record that health and safety procedures are being followed;
- to monitor and improve the productivity of staff members.
Where are cameras not allowed in the workplace?
It is illegal to install surveillance in changing rooms, bathroom facilities, or toilets in New Zealand. It is also prohibited to carry out surveillance if the employee is not at work.
With regards to placement of cameras, there are usually rules restricting directing the camera at public areas or onto someone else’s private property. Check with your local officials for specific details on what’s allowed and what isn’t.
Does CCTV reduce insurance costs?
One possible benefit of incorporating CCTV into your security system is the opportunity to reduce your home or business insurance costs. Whether or not there is a discount, as well as how much discount you might receive for what features, will all depend on your insurance plan and the particulars that affect your insurance rates. Most home and business insurance companies will offer a discount, with larger discounts for security systems that incorporate alarms or notification of the authorities of possible wrong-doing.