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Keeping Watch

Monitoring employees? "They'll never notice" is not the way to start.

By Jacquelyn Lynn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Actually, employees' right to privacy in the workplace isvery limited. In general, you have an established right to monitoremployee telephone calls, computer content, voice mail and e-mail,and even videotape work areas. According to the Privacy RightsClearinghouse in San Diego, there are very few laws regardingon-the-job employee monitoring, but you are obligated to honor anypolicies you set in this area. For example, if you tell employeesthey will be notified when monitoring takes place, you'll haveto notify them.

Many of the questions about privacy stem from technologicaladvances that have contributed to greater productivity andefficiency. Those same advances have also created additionalconcerns for employers, says Beverly J. Bailey, owner of BaileyStrategic Human Resources in Diamond Bar, California. Such issuesinclude misuse of work time by employees on tasks unrelated to thejob, risks related to computer viruses and malicious code,harassment and discrimination conducted by the use of technology,security of confidential information and the possiblemisrepresentation of the company. "As a result, moreem-ployers are monitoring employees' activities," saysBailey. And technology has made that easier, as well.

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