Workplace monitoring and surveillance

The Privacy Act 1988 (Privacy Act) doesn’t specifically cover surveillance in the workplace.

However, an employer who conducts surveillance or monitors their staff must follow any relevant Australian, state or territory laws. This includes laws applying to the monitoring and recording of telephone conversations.

Generally, state laws cover the installation and use of CCTV, and some states also have specific workplace surveillance laws.

It may be reasonable for an employer to monitor some activities to ensure staff are doing their work and using resources appropriately. If your employer monitors staff use of email, internet and other computer resources, and they’ve told you about the monitoring, this would generally be allowed.

If an employer keeps a record of their monitoring then the Australian Privacy Principles may apply. For example, a CCTV video recording or a computer record of emails that doesn’t directly relate to your employment.

You can find more information about surveillance and monitoring on our website or contact the Attorney-General’s Department in your state or territory for more information about local surveillance and monitoring laws

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