What's the problem?
At the moment, in part as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, workers are facing increased surveillance from their employers. Workers are being put in the difficult situation where they might feel that they have to consent to monitoring software being installed on their devices. The inherent imbalance of power between an employer and employee forces the workers to consent to any such measures being implemented. Should they refuse, would they be at risk of being fired? And some workers, such as workers in the gig economy sector may not be in a position to refuse the requests of their employers.
What's the solution?
Employees should speak with their employers about any monitoring software that is being implemented. Under European data protection legislation for example, workers have a right to know exactly what information is being collected by their employer, how it is being used and shared, and how their personal data is being protected.
Employee productivity can be measured by adherence to deadlines, achievement of targets, and delivering results. As a result, any monitoring software - including time-tracking software and activity loggers - could be deemed as unnecessary, disproportionate, and invasive. Employers must consider if the same results can be achieved by other means - and preference must always be given for the less intrusive options.
Employers should also consider what impact their tracking software will have on the morale of their employees, and the risk such software poses in alienating employees. Good employers should consider whether such monitoring is necessary at all, focusing on the negative impact it may have on their relationship with their staff and their business in the future.
What is PI doing?
We are currently researching technologies that are being used by employers during the Covid-19 era to surveil remote workers. We are also researching the data that gig economy employers collect about their workers. This research can be used for future advocacy against remote and gig economy workplace surveillance.