Ask Renata

Every week in SafetyNet we highlight an interesting question we received through Ask Renata.

This week we have an unusual one, concerning privacy and surveillance at work.

Question:

Are there any legal requirements if management decide to put security cameras in your workplace. E.g. are they required to have a policy in place, are they required to inform staff and are they required to display signage that cameras are operating in the area.

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Answer:

Hi,

Thanks for getting in touch and apologies for the delayed response as we have had some staff on leave.

Unfortunately this isn't an area of our expertise, since it isn't strictly an OHS issue. I did some digging though, and I found this helpful article by one of our trusted law firms, Maurice Blackburn, on the subject: 

www.mauriceblackburn.com.au/blog/2018/june/27/surveillance-in-the-workplace/

Have a read and see what you think. The conclusion is that within certain limits (i.e. as long as they aren't in bathrooms/changerooms) it isn't unlawful.

However, when surveillance cameras are used as a tool to add pressure on staff to meet KPIs or increase their workload, this can negatively impact psychological health and is certainly an OHS issue. If you feel that this is taking place, I would suggest looking at the systems of work as a whole rather than just focusing on the cameras. Are the KPIs reasonable? Are the systems of work adequate to meet the targets safely and without risks to health? These are the sorts of broader questions I would be asking in relation to the use of surveillance.

You can read a bit more about workplace stress on our website here: www.ohsrep.org.au/hazards/stress

Let me know if you need any further assistance or clarification.

Thanks

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