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CCTV and Audio Recording at My Office: A Case Study

By: Kevin Watson MSc - Updated: 1 Sep 2020 | comments*Discuss
Cctv; Audio Recording; Office; Staff

Bill Sley has worked in the same office for almost thirty years. Two months ago, the owner of the business appointed a new manager.

The manager was intent on making changes. This in itself didn’t bother Bill, but some of the signs of change certainly did.

New Manager

“I expected the new manager, Ken, to make his mark on the office. Change was inevitable, and in my view much needed. Our computer system, for instance, was old. So when Ken said he was introducing the latest technology, I was pleased.

Weekend Installation

“The new computers arrived over the course of a weekend. So far, so good. Then one of my colleagues nudged me and pointed to the ceiling. There in the corner was a CCTV camera.

“Ken had mentioned nothing about this. I decided to have a wander round the office, including the kitchen areas and the toilets. I’m glad to say there wasn’t a camera visible in the toilets, but there were three other cameras in the main office, one at the reception desk, and two in the kitchen area.


“I found the presence of these cameras upsetting because they infringed staff privacy. My colleagues felt the same.

“It appeared as though Ken planned to watch our every move during the day. Yet we didn’t handle valuables, and there was nothing much to steal apart from the usual office pens, paper, and so on. We couldn’t work out what he was up to.

“Because I’d worked in the office longer than anyone else, I went to see Ken. I asked him about the cameras, and he was offhand at first. He then sensed I wasn’t about to go away, so he told me why he’d installed them.

“Apparently, he felt he had a right to use CCTV to ‘keep an eye on his staff’. He also said, just as I was leaving his office, that he’d also be monitoring phone calls ‘for business purposes’.

The Law And Employee Rights

“I thought Ken’s explanations were vague. Plus I was annoyed he hadn’t spoken about installing CCTV and audio checks when he’d talked about the new computer equipment.

“That night, I rang my brother-in-law, Greg. He works for a law firm, and I wanted to get his take on Ken’s actions. Greg said he’d get back to me.

“The next day, Greg contacted me at work. He had a lot to say, and what it boiled down to was as follows.

“There are four laws that can apply to the issue of staff monitoring. These are the Human Rights Act, the Data Protection Act, the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, and the Lawful Business Practice Regulations.

“Between them, these laws oblige employers to ensure staff monitoring is justified and meets a particular problem. Employers must also tell staff what’s going on.

“The laws go on to say what employers cannot do. They must not record phone calls unnecessarily; use continuous video recording unless it relates to security; and use CCTV in a private place such a staff kitchen area.

“I told Greg that I couldn’t see how Ken’s use of CCTV and audio recording was following the law. We’d never had a problem that warranted CCTV spying on us. And because we mainly used the phones for calls to other parts of the business, call monitoring seemed to serve no purpose.


“At this point, I must say I was lucky to have Greg on hand. He sent me links to various websites. Here I was able to download guidance about monitoring staff, and employers’ use of CCTV and audio recordings.

“I printed off several website pages, and asked Ken if I could make an appointment to see him. He told me to come to his office straightaway.

“I gave Ken the printouts and explained my concerns. I also asked him if he wouldn’t mind telling staff why he felt justified in using CCTV and audio recordings.

Climb Down

“The end result was that Ken climbed down. He began by introducing an office policy about monitoring. He discussed this with staff first, and even adjusted it as a result of feedback.

“Ken then removed the CCTV apart from a camera at the reception desk for security purposes. He also spelled out in the policy that there would be no audio recording of phone calls.

“I think Ken’s making an effort. No one’s denying his right to keep an eye on things in the office. But he has to respect staff privacy if we’re to feel trusted. Anyway, everyone in the office is now a lot more relaxed.”

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i know my boss has cctv in the shop i work in that doesent bother me but a manager has told me they listen to conversations as well can my boss listen to our conversations to
none - 1-Sep-20 @ 2:40 PM
I have joined a company which works from a very small container size office which has had a camara with audio installed for several years due to a break in , however 3 individuals have a app and can listen in at any time, 2 of which are just family members and nor owners , managers or anyone of authority, and sadly I believe the owner who is now my partner listens in quite regular , ive told her how I feel but it's still there and from Monday to Friday 45hrs a week I feel watched and listened to and it makes me very miserable and at times angry for her blatant refusal to remove it even to replace it without audio as it's being listened to for unjustified reasons , thank you for listening , regards kevin
Kev - 4-Dec-18 @ 2:21 AM
I'm a bartender in an 'old mans pub'. The pub is privately owned with the owner living upstairs. The owner and the manager have both installed cameras within the pub, (which is absolutely fine) but I don't understand why those cameras have to have audio. It puts the staff and regulars on edge. There are no signs to let the customers know, and the only reason the staff know about the audio is simply by accident. The mangers can watch the cctv on their phones (which again is fine) but can also listen to conversations. They claim the cameras do not have playback so they can only listen when the app is open but I'm still not convinced. Is this legal?
NoseyNeigh - 3-May-18 @ 3:31 PM
I work in a hair and beauty salon and my manager has said that she is audio recording us on cctv and threatened to sack one of my colleagues for making comments about here personal life . I understand the use off cctv but audio recording our personal conversations is a step too far , is this legal ?
misstwigg - 23-Dec-16 @ 6:29 PM
I have just found out my employer is not only using usb cameras in our work place but is also recording all conversations regardless of whether they are work or personal. what are my rights and is this legal
mgw3764 - 1-Sep-16 @ 4:19 PM
@duncan - have included a gov.uk link herewhich explains what is legal and what's not regarding monitoring in the workplace. I hope this helps.
EmployeePrivacyRights - 20-Feb-15 @ 2:11 PM
A customer would like to purchase cctv for his office, warerhouse. he wants to record activity in main open plan office, 5 workers and record audible. purpose is security, health and safety, training if he puts up signage and also inform staff by letter, to be signed and returned, is this request legal
duncan - 19-Feb-15 @ 6:10 PM
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