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Photo of Michelle Cohen Levy
Photo of Michelle Cohen Levy

Can you monitor an employee’s computer use? 

On Behalf of | Mar 19, 2021 | Employment Law |

Many of your employees likely spend almost all day on the Internet or at least using their computers. In the name of both security and productivity, you would like to install software that allows you to monitor what they are doing at all times. However, some of your employees consider this to be a violation of their right to privacy.

Are you allowed to monitor what your employees do online at work, or not? 

Employees should not expect privacy at work

In short, you are allowed to monitor what your employees are doing on the computer, and they cannot complain about the lack of privacy because they typically should not expect any privacy at work on their workplace devices. An employee who is in your facility and using your computer network must understand that what they do can be monitored and reviewed by others. If they want a more private experience, they are free to get that on their personal devices at home — but not at work. 

That said, many employees use their own devices at work. They may not even connect to the wireless network, for instance, and use data to access online content via a smartphone. You cannot monitor an employee’s personal devices. If you are concerned that allowing employees to use their own electronic devices may cut into their workplace productivity, it’s better to just have a policy that employees aren’t allowed to use personal electronic devices while on the clock. This limits them to the use of phones, computers and tablets that you can monitor. 

Avoiding legal issues with your employees

Whenever you’re investigating something like this, you do want to avoid legal issues with your workforce. Be sure you know exactly what rights you have