Last week, I wrote about a strange request for video footage taken by bullied employees. This week, it’s quite the reverse. Is it me or is employer surveillance becoming more common? An article written by a friend of mine, @ShiptonMartin, exposing a South Wales Council after they spent £110,000 on private investigators, made me think.
There were seeds of it at my old firm, but management did the snooping themselves. Occasionally, someone would sneak out to drive past an employee’s house to see if their car was on the drive after they phoned in sick. Didn’t they have enough work to do, I wondered?
Now it seems it’s becoming more common for firms to actually employ investigators to spy on staff. I wonder if it’s to do with Vince Cable’s culture of suspicion. Cable has introduced a number of measures to curb what he perceives to be a veritable army of rogue employees bleeding businesses dry with sickness absence, spurious claims of bullying and harassment and an eye out for soft employers they can exploit. It’s going too far. Businesses are cagey with their staff and what’s happening is a self fulfilling prophecy. Staff who know they’re not trusted will have little loyalty to the firm that employs them.
Trust is at the heart of every employment contract. Legally, the contract can be void because of a clear breach of trust on either side. And employee surveillance already sits in a murky area of law after the Government’s restrictions on such practices. If Vince Cable could just move away from his employee deficit model and remind UK businesses of the positives - that the vast majority of employees work hard and want their jobs - we might get somewhere.