Labour Research May 2002

Law Queries

Law Queries

* Our employers have told one of our members that he is to be disciplined and could be dismissed. They say that they have evidence of misconduct that they obtained by secretly taping him while in the toilets. We are outraged that this kind of surveillance should have been going on without our knowledge. Can employers do this sort of thing?

Employers should not carry out this form of surveillance without people's knowledge. Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights says that everyone should have the right to a private life. According to the European Court of Human Rights this includes the right to a private life even at work.

Installing CCTV cameras in the toilets is likely to be in breach of Art 8. It is also likely to be a breach of the implied contractual term of mutual trust and confidence. A draft code, published by the Information Commissioner says that CCTV is "particularly intrusive for employees" and notes that cases where both video and audio monitoring are justified are likely to be extremely rare. The final code will come into force later this year.

More information: Niemietz v Germany [1992]; Information Commissioner