Covert CCTV in the workplace

In the case of Lopez Ribalda & Others v Spain, the European Court of Human Rights have recently held that hidden CCTV cameras in the workplace are a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the right to a private life.

A Spanish supermarket installed a number of covert surveillance cameras to address suspected thefts from the till. The supermarket employees were informed that they were being monitored by visible cameras but not others which had been placed covertly covering the till.

As a result of the footage obtained from the hidden cameras, a number of the employees were dismissed based upon thefts recoded by the footage. The employees brought a claim alleging a breach of Article 8. The Spanish national court ruled that the use of the hidden cameras were justified, appropriate, necessary and proportionate in the interests of security. However, the ECHR held that the employee's right to a private life had been violated. This judgement will have serious repercussions for employers wanting to rely upon evidence obtained by hidden CCTV cameras.

An employer may still be able to undertake covert recordings but only if such surveillance is targeted and an individual(s) and such surveillance measures are limited in time. For all other recordings, employers must ensure that their employees are made aware of any surveillance measures in place and are aware of the manner in which the data obtained by the surveillance shall be used.

Should you be concerned the way your company uses surveillance in the workplace or should you wish to ensure that your CCTV usage is compliant with the law, then contact Greystone Legal.

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