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05 September 2003

Is your employer snooping on you?
New guide helps union reps to protect workers' privacy
From CCTV to call monitoring, and from "mystery shoppers" to swipe cards, today's workforce is increasingly subject to surveillance and monitoring by employers. But privacy in the workplace is an issue that affects all workers. It is not just about "big brother" surveillance techniques, it also concerns the extent to which employers regularly monitor employees' e-mail and internet use, and the records that they keep about staff.

LRD's latest booklet, Monitoring and surveillance - a guide to privacy at work provides a comprehensive overview of the topic - covering types of surveillance and performance monitoring technology, telephone, internet and e-mail monitoring, employee records and rights of access to files, as well as pre-employment and health screening. It gives examples of workers who have been spied on in the changing room, or in their cars outside work and demonstrates how intrusive monitoring can affect employee morale and health.

But bosses who snoop can't have it all their own way, as Monitoring and surveillance explains. It describes workers' rights under the Data Protection Act and the Human Rights Act to know what information is being held about them and what monitoring the employer is carrying out. Monitoring and surveillance also explains how a new code of practice from the Information Commissioner can be used in negotiations with the employer to protect workers' privacy.

Providing examples of union-negotiated agreements and policies on workplace monitoring, as well as advice from the code of practice and union guides, Monitoring and surveillance should be an invaluable guide to help union reps ensure that their members' privacy at work is maintained.

Notes to editors
1. Monitoring and surveillance - a guide to privacy at work is published by the Labour Research Department, 78 Blackfriars Road, London SE1 8HF, price ?4.00 or ?10.50 for employers or commercial organisations. LRD booklets are also available on subscription at an annual cost of ?29.50 (?73.95 for employers/ commercial organisations). LRD publishes 10-11 booklets each year.

2. The Labour Research Department is an independent trade union and labour movement organisation founded 90 years ago. Around 1,800 trade union organisations, including 55 national unions, representing 99% of total TUC membership, are affiliated.

3. For press enquiries on this booklet contact Tessa Wright on 020 7902 9817. To order copies of the booklet telephone 020 7928 3649.

4. Full information about all of LRD's services and publications is available on the LRD website at www.lrd.org.uk.

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