Are you allowed to monitor homeworkers?

According to recent surveys, 60% of workers who worked from home during the pandemic maintain they are more productive. However, only 33% of business decision-makers thought that the workers in their team were more productive, and 35% believed that they were less productive when homeworking.

To what extent can you monitor homeworkers to assess productivity levels?

You can monitor homeworkers to keep track of their productivity, but you need to ensure compliance with relevant legal provisions, including the UK GDPR, the Investigatory Powers Act 2016 and the Investigatory Powers (Interception by Businesses etc., for Monitoring and Record-keeping Purposes) Regulations 2018. This means that you must:  

  • conduct a data protection impact assessment (DPIA) before introducing any new systematic monitoring activity 
  • be transparent and provide detailed information to employees about your monitoring activities 
  • have a lawful basis for processing monitoring data – “legitimate interests” is likely to be your lawful basis, i.e., the processing is necessary for the purposes of your legitimate interests. However, this can only be relied on where the employee’s interests or their fundamental rights and freedoms don’t override your interests, so make sure you first conduct this balancing test, which you can do as part of your DPIA 
  • ensure any monitoring is proportionate to what you’re trying to achieve 
  • have lawful authority to intercept any communications (phone calls, emails, etc.) covered by the Investigatory Powers Act 2016you can monitor or record communications without an employee’s consent in order to: establish the existence of facts; ascertain compliance with the regulatory or self-regulatory practices or procedures relevant to your business; ascertain or demonstrate the standards which are to be achieved by persons using the system in the course of their duties; prevent or detect crime; investigate or detect the unauthorised use of the system; or secure the effective operation of the system. However, you must first have made all reasonable efforts to inform employees that interception may take place 
  • strike a balance between protecting your business interests and employee privacy in the workplace.

If you need any guidance, please get in touch