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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
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I work into a school kitchen and the school head put a

Customer Question

i work into a school kitchen and the school head put a secret camera into kitchen it take our picture while we change our clothes and all our activity threw out our work without notifying us is this legal?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

What do you mean by threw out your work?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Do you mean throughout your work, whilst you are working there?

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

There are various reasons why an employer may wish to monitor its employees in the workplace. When there is a genuine reason for monitoring employees, such as security, training, legal obligations, etc the employer would normally be justified in monitoring, as long as it is conducted in an open and reasonable manner.

The actual use of monitoring equipment in the workplace will be covered by the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) as it would involve the processing of personal data. As such, the employer must adhere to a number of principles set out in the DPA, which include:
• obtaining the data fairly and lawfully;
• informing employees of the types of monitoring that are being used;
• using the data obtained from monitoring only for a specific purpose;
• limiting the data to adequate and relevant data; and
• not holding the data for longer than necessary.

An employee may only try and prevent the monitoring from taking place if it breaches any of the DPA principles or if it is carried out in a way that is causing or is likely to cause substantial damage and distress to them.

In addition to the above principles, the Information Commissioner's Office has published a Code on data protection in the workplace. The Code states that CCTV should not be used to monitor the employee's compliance with their employment contract. This means that if the cameras are there to deal with security issues, they should not be used to reprimand an employee over their poor performance.

The Code also recommends that routine CCTV monitoring of employees is only likely to be justified when there are particular safety or security risks that cannot be dealt with by less intrusive means. Covert monitoring by CCTV may only take place if the following exceptional circumstances apply:
• the monitoring relates to behaviour, not to contract performance;
• it is carried out to investigate a suspected criminal activity or malpractice; and
• informing staff is likely to prejudice the above purpose and certain standards for covert monitoring are complied with.

Finally, there is the issue of human rights. Under human rights legislation every person has the right to private life so if there is evidence that an employer has invaded that privacy the employee could take action against their employer. General monitoring that is justified and that meets the criteria set out above is unlikely to invade one’s privacy, but covert monitoring or monitoring in areas where some privacy could be expected (e.g. toilets, private rooms, vehicles, etc.) is likely to be unreasonable and possibly unlawful.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of what you can do to take this further, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, my response should be visible on this page. Please let me know if this has answered your original question and if you need me to discuss the next steps in more detail? In the meantime please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. The question will not close and I can continue with my advice as discussed. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 year ago.

Hello, do you need any further assistance or are you happy with the above response? Look forward to hearing from you.