Employee Monitoring

Employers are increasingly concerned about the consequences of explicitly sharing documents via email and the Internet, including decreased productivity, malware infection, leakage of company information, and liability for sexual or other harassment. That’s why many companies have implemented employee monitoring.

Employee monitoring is a way to ensure organizational productivity and workplace safety. However, not all employees like that employers monitor them, and some question the ethics and legality of workplace surveillance.

Benefits of Employee Monitoring 

Employers who conduct workplace surveillance recognize the importance of protecting employees’ personal information. They have clear policies about what information the company collects and stores and when they can share it with others.

Employers can benefit from adopting workplace privacy best practices in several ways. These may include.

  • Meeting legal obligations
  • Increased productivity
  • Increased productivity, better compliance with legal requirements, etc.

Compliance with legal requirements

Employee monitoring can help identify employees who are violating company policies or legislation. This is important because organizations will hold legally and financially responsible for such actions.


How employees spend their time has a significant impact on productivity. By observing employees, employers can identify work patterns and trends and find ways to improve productivity.  Knowing that employers monitor their work and behavior allows employees to focus better and avoid distractions, encouraging them to go the extra mile to improve efficiency.

Confidence and Security

A straightforward monitoring program helps staff feel more comfortable using the system and recognize its limitations of the monitoring system. A security-focused system will also give them the peace of mind that if there is a threat to their safety, you can deal with it quickly.

Technical Considerations of Employee Monitoring 

This article examines the nature of workplace surveillance and the laws that U.S. employers need to be aware of and follow when monitoring their employees. It also looks at it as a critical component of workplace surveillance and provides recommendations for employee monitoring.

Employee monitoring is legal in the United States.

In the United States, employee surveillance is perfectly legal. The law allows employers to monitor employees using company-provided equipment in this country. However, there is a requirement of a business justification  to justify a surveillance program. In some states, companies must obtain consent for surveillance programs. Under federal law, employers are not required to inform employees that they are being monitored.

Companies can legitimately monitor computer activity.

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986 (ECPA) provides that business equipment supplied by the company is considered business property. The law allows employers to monitor the systems they own, and activities on company-provided equipment are therefore not regarded as private activities.

  • Employers have the right to monitor the use of documents, files, the Internet, and applications on work computers. 
  • Even if the employee takes the device home, the employer can monitor any activity on the device. 

Employers can monitor social media and online activity.

Under U.S. law, employers have the right to monitor employees’ access to the Internet for business purposes during work hours. Therefore, companies are allowed to monitor their employees’ online activities, including the websites they visit and the time they spend online during work hours. Companies may also restrict access to specific websites.

  • Special rules apply to social networking sites. 
  • For example, if an employee accesses Facebook from a company-provided device during work hours, the employer has the right to monitor their behavior. 
  • In addition, some states allow companies to request data on a job applicant’s social media users to conduct a pre-employment background check.
  • Employers may also establish company policies limiting employee access to social media during work hours. 
  • Several states now have laws prohibiting employers from asking employees to provide social media login information.

Companies can monitor keystrokes and screen content.

Your employer can monitor anything you type on a company-provided device. Generally, managers have access to any information on their work computers, and in most cases, this policy is clearly stated in your employment contract.

Your employer can read your email.

As soon as an email goes through your company’s network system, your employer has the right to read it. Therefore, even if you access your personal email from a company-provided device, your supervisor has the right to read it. 

  • However, in some states, companies must obtain employee consent before implementing email monitoring, and this is the case in California and Illinois.
  • Delaware and Connecticut, companies must first inform employees before allowing them to monitor their emails. 
  • Tennessee and Colorado have also passed laws requiring companies to have an employee monitoring policy.

Companies can record and monitor calls with restrictions.

The ECPA makes it illegal to intercept oral, wire, or electronic communications knowingly. However, there are exceptions.

  • Service providers can access electronic communications.
  • Companies may monitor the use of company systems if there is a legitimate business reason to do so.
  • Telephone conversations can be recorded if at least one party agrees. In the United States, each state has its own rules about obtaining consent from all parties to record telephone conversations.

The use of video surveillance systems in the workplace is legal.

Companies may use video surveillance systems in the workplace as long as the use of the system has a legitimate business purpose. However, U.S. federal law prohibits their use in specific workplaces. For example, New York, California, and Virginia banned the use of video surveillance in locker rooms and bathrooms.

  • This is because companies cannot install closed-circuit cameras where there is an expectation of privacy. 
  • In addition, employers must inform employees and obtain their consent before implementing CCTV surveillance. 
  • The Federal Wiretap Act states that video recordings may not include audio recordings in both state jurisdictions.


Digital workplace surveillance is an essential component of modern employee monitoring. Surveillance helps companies monitor employee performance, protect confidential information and prevent cybersecurity incidents. However, when developing methods for employee monitoring in the workplace, it is essential to consider the technical aspects and the legal and ethical aspects.

Author Bio

Sarah Noah Liam is a 28-year-old Software Management person who enjoys programming, Employee Productivity Monitoring Software, and screen recording. She has a post-graduate degree in Computer science. She was raised in a happy family home with two loving parents.


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