Nowadays, there is no more need to speak with a low voice when doing a private call in order to avoid your colleagues from hearing what you say, as anyway, your telephone conversation could be recorded. It is really easy, as well, for a company to be able to see where you are in the company and when, using electronic bagging systems each time you enter an office or a new part of the building or even simpler, using video recordings. Your computer files are never 100% safe if they are saved on a server. Your emails and internet access can be checked anytime, without any problem.
All those new supervising tools have a name : Electronic Supervision. But how far can they go without interfering with employees’ private life ? In general, companies that engage in any electronic supervision do so for such reasons as : In regulated industries, taping telemarketing activities gives both the company and the consumer some degree of legal protection. Also, electronic recording and storage may be considered part of a company’s “due diligence” in keeping adequate records and files. Employees who are unwittingly exposed to offensive graphic material on colleagues’ computer screens may charge a hostile workplace environment
Customer service and consumer relations personnel are frequently taped as they field calls, and tapes are reviewed with supervisors to evaluate and improve job performance. Net-Surfing, personal use of office email, and/or dialing up private numbers expend time and assets on non-business related activities. Protecting the value of proprietary corporate information is a primary concern in an age when email and internet connections continue to expand. With more than 10 billion emails sent every day throughout the world, emails use became common practice.
But if this way of communicating is making our life easier, not having to send letter or faxes each time, it doesn’t guarantee a full confidentiality. There is nothing easiest, for a company, to read emails sent via its server. If a password allow a limited access to your email box on your PC, the message content itself is stored on the company server and is easily accessible there. And that’s the same for email being received. It is, as well, really simple for a firm to check your internet “surfing” provided your company has a firewall and a “checking access” tool (which is the case for 95% of companies).
Your employer is able to check what site you visited, how much time you spent on those or even what you bought . It is not really complicated, don’t you think ? But what are the firm’s main reasons for such a supervision of emails and internet ? In fact, main concerns are the following : -transfer of confidential information. Those concerns are partly justified, because an employee’s defective attitude with respect to the above mentioned, could lead to a legal liability for the company.
In 2001, in the United States, 46. of firms were storing and reviewing email messaging while 62. 8% were monitoring internet connections. About 76. 4 % of those firms have disciplined employees in 2001 for misuse or personal use of office telecommunications, and 31% have dismissed individuals for those reasons. Two-thirds of companies did discipline employees for abuse of office email or internet connections, with 27 reporting dismissals for those reasons. Set boundaries between private life and supervision. How could this electronic supervision not interfere with each employee private life?
In fact, that’s one of the main argument that could make an employee sue its company in case of dismissal. Even if a working relation, by contract, gives the employer the right to control an employee, it doesn’t mean that the employee gives away his right to let anyone not respect his private life. Nevertheless, we notice that “respect of private life” is rather limited at a working place. First of all, the hardware and software belongs to the firm and, consequently, its content as well. In the other hand, what is filed in our computer can be easily compared with what is filed in our desk.
In that sense, even if most of those files belong to the company, it is always accepted that the employee has some private notes, or private objects as well. To some extend, the employee has the right to maintain a certain confidentiality. Let’s imagine an employee is homosexual or has AIDS or that he needs to take some medicine because he is depressed, those issues have nothing to do with the legal contractual agreement between the firm and himself and shouldn’t be known by the employer while supervising his emails for example. In that case, the employer will interfere with it’s employee private life.