The number of employers monitoring staff at home is going up, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

One in three workers (32 percent) are now being monitored at work – a rise from just a quarter (24 percent) in April, according to the union Prospect.

The number of workers being monitored by cameras have doubled compared to half a year ago, at 13 percent.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service or Acas called on employers to carry out impact assessments before monitoring staff.

It says the assessments should clearly state the pros and cons of observing staff – as well as other options to ensure work is being done.

When asked about their view of surveillance, four in five workers believe that the use of webcams to monitor remote workers should either be banned (52 per cent) or heavily regulated (28 per cent).

Younger workers aged between 18-34 were found to be most at risk of being monitored by employers with almost half (48 per cent) reporting this experience.

In light of this, Prospect is calling for a range of measures to protect employees from intrusive monitoring including prompting the ICO to toughen the regulation on the introduction of new monitoring technology in workplaces.

In addition, the union is also arguing employees should always be consulted about this technology and there is full transparency on how this surveillance technology is used.

Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said:

We are used to the idea of employers checking up on workers, but when people are working in their own homes this assumes a whole new dimension.

New technology allows employers to have a constant window into their employees homes, and the use of the technology is largely unregulated by government.

We think that we need to upgrade the law to protect the privacy of workers and set reasonable limits on the use of this snooping technology, and the public overwhelmingly agree with us.

Chi Onwurah MP, Labour’s Shadow Digital Minister, added:

This deeply worrying research shows just how anxious many people are about the use of invasive surveillance whilst they work.

Ministers must urgently provide better regulatory oversight of online surveillance software to ensure people have the right to privacy whether in their workplace or home.

The bottom line is that workers should not be subject to digital surveillance without their informed consent, and there should be clear rules, rights and expectations for both businesses and workers.


*To obtain this research, Opinium polled 2424 UK workers between the 19th and 22nd October 2021.