Employee management and the law

March 13, 2024
Clyde Mooney

Australian employment law covers aspects of managing employee behaviour, including disclosure and privacy obligations, and the rights of a business to carry out surveillance.

Employment privacy laws in Australia are complex and there are many ways employee privacy can be compromised. The legislation covers the numerous employee privacy issues, from records and information, to physical and electronic surveillance and monitoring.

“In the world of work today, many employers may not fully understand their responsibilities regarding privacy in the workplace,” suggests Amber Hopkins from OneLegal, who will be a panellist at the Seminar of Hospitality Operations* this month.

Digital advancements are changing workplace environments. Employers have more access to employee information, which may blur the lines between work and personal life – impacting the legal boundaries.

The Privacy Act 1988 applies to private organisations (and Federal government agencies) that use or disclose personal information in the course of business.

However, if information is strictly related to employment, it is likely exempt from these rules, such as internet and email use on an employer’s computer.

Employers are required to inform employees about surveillance policies in place, or give staff at least 14 days’ notice that surveillance may be carried out, outlining how the surveillance will be conducted and ensuring employees understand and acknowledge policies before it begins.

Businesses are often interested in monitoring employees to ensure they are being productive, using CCTV or checking work computers for personal use.

The Workplace Surveillance Act 2005 (sections 15-22) details restrictions on the circumstances around surveillance, prohibiting cameras in change rooms and bathrooms, and from monitoring employees when they are not at work.

A record of personal information relating to employment of a person can include information on: health, engagement, training, disciplining, resignation, terms and conditions of employment, personal and emergency contact details, performance and conduct, and taxation, banking or superannuation affairs.

“Employers must ensure that surveillance does not infringe on employee’s privacy or extend beyond work hours,” warns Hopkins. 

*ClubTIC presents the Seminar of Hospitality Operations on Tuesday, 26 March, enlightening hospitality professionals on regulatory and operational issues in the hospitality environment. 


Monitoring employees, OneLegal

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