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Surveillance video law: How do we comply?

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in HR Management,Human Resources

Q. We have surveillance cameras in several locations in our workplace that record activity, but no sound. The images can be viewed over the Internet by supervisors and HR personnel who have the password to the site. What should our privacy and electronic communications policy say about access to the camera feed? — C.K., Wisconsin

A. Employers can reduce their liability risk by providing formal, written notice to employees that they are subject to surveillance cameras in the workplace. You should clarify the employees’ expectation of privacy in the workplace. For example, the policy may include where the surveillance cameras are located and the reasons the surveillance cameras will be viewed.  

To answer your specific question, that same policy should make clear that viewing the surveillance cameras is limited only to authorized personnel—including supervisors and HR personnel—who have a legitimate business reason to view the video. Also, make sure those authorized personnel view the surveillance video in a private area so others won’t be able to view it.

Publicize and distribute the policy to all employees. Require employees to sign a form acknowledging they are aware of the policy. Finally, make sure you comply with any state law regulating the use of video surveillance in the workplace.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Jon December 5, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Just to quickly add to the excellent advice already provided, here in the UK, our recommendation would be that as part of a video surveillance users policy documents, it’s worth including a ‘global’ statement to outline the purpose for deploying CCTV cameras throughout a given site.

In addition, a ‘macro’ statement can optionally be provided for specific areas within that site, so for example the requirement for video monitoring may differ in a general office area where the main threat might be perceived as theft of property, as opposed to the main reception where the primary risk might be related to staff dealing with the general public.

At key locations, a ‘micro’ profile can determine more accurately the detailed objectives for a specific individual camera location.

In addition to a written policy, particularly if members of the public have access to specific locations, it’s also worth providing signage that explains the key objectives for using security cameras, and who to contact if further information is required.

It’s also important to consider that in terms of civil liberty / privacy considerations, apart from access to the recordings, it’s also essential to accurately determine what quality of recording is required, and how long it should be retained in it’s original format.

If required, there is a range of useful documents and information available on this webpage ….


CCTV Advisor – London, UK


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