WORKPLACE SURVEILLANCE INQUIRY BEGINS

Victoria's Parliament has started an inquiry into workplace surveillance to examine how employers handle surveillance data and the role of artificial intelligence (AI).

Key points to be examined include:

Need for Updated Laws: Current workplace surveillance laws are outdated, developed before widespread internet use. There's a need to ensure these laws keep pace with advancing technology.

Lack of Dedicated Laws in Victoria: Unlike New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria does not have specific workplace surveillance laws. Surveillance rules are part of general surveillance device laws.

Employer Surveillance Rules: In Victoria, employers can only monitor workers with their consent and must have a legitimate reason, such as attendance, performance, fraud detection, or workplace safety.

Inquiry Scope: The inquiry will cover five key areas: current practices and data handling, regulation effectiveness, privacy and data security risks, effects on workers and workplace relations, and best practices from other regions.

Committee and Submissions: The committee, consisting of members from different political parties, is seeking submissions from individuals and organizations by July 19, with public hearings to follow. A report is expected by May next year.

Focus Areas: The inquiry will look into potential law reforms and emerging issues such as remote working, data breaches, AI's role, and the broader implications of surveillance on workers' safety, rights, and employer-worker power dynamics.

Intrusive workplace surveillance is a growing workplace phenomenon. Although not recognised on WorkSafe's list of psychosocial hazards, unions and researchers understand that it poses a significant risk to workers psychological and physical health and safety.  If left unchecked, intrusive workplace surveillance has the potential to lead to widespread discrimination, work intensification, unfair treatment and resultant stress. 

Examples of intrusive surveillance can include:

  • Monitoring of emails and files
  • Webcams on work computers
  • Tracking of when and how much a worker is typing 
  • Tracking of calls made and movements made by the worker
  • Using CCTV and trackable devices

Check out our Intrusive Workplace Surveillance and Algorithmic Management webpage for more information. 

Learn more about the Inquiry into Workplace Surveillance here.

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