Employee monitoring issues


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Business ethics are the contemporary norms, set of values, and principles guiding the actions and behavior of employees at the companies they work for from a legal and moral standpoint. There are many common sense and policy-based guidelines that employees are expected to follow as well as the employers running these businesses. Types of ethical issues in the workplace range massively from sexual harassment and preservation of the environment to fraud prevention, anti-corruption practices, and disclosure of confidential information. Employees of health insurance organizations are required to refrain from sharing clients’ health-related information and companies are required to provide safe working conditions and pay overtime to provide for a safe environment.

Consequences of poor ethics in the workplace frequently result initially in a warning, then suspension, then dismissal or even prison time for employees. Meanwhile, for employers it may result in a fine or a lawsuit. Ethical issues in the workplace are preached by bosses at offices and debated in political arenas with regards to the rights that workers are entitled to. With the recent meteoric rise in technology and micromanagement software, employee monitoring issues are becoming a hot topic.

Employers often require employees to only use devices and email accounts assigned to them by the company. While they use these, employers are legally allowed to monitor them. However, the ethical issue regarding privacy in the workplace stems from the fact that employees would like to keep their bosses out of their personal lives and not be judged on their perfectly legal personal engagements. At the same time, there is a lot both to gain and to lose for employers in this respect. First of all, they would like to get as much out of their workers in terms of productivity as possible. When they monitor their employees’ devices and see that they have spent the majority of the day, or even a portion of the day, on Facebook and Instagram for example, they discover that the employee is not spending the entire day working. However, this also concerns, more importantly, ethical issues in the workplace on employees’ part, such as violations in company policy in terms of the required job responsibilities that must be carried out, protection of the company’s confidential information from dissemination, and keeping the company’s resources from becoming misappropriated.


Laws on workplace monitoring ethics vary from country to country and state to state, but in the majority of cases companies are open about the fact that they monitor employees’ company-issued devices and accounts. This alone makes a difference in decreasing the likelihood that employees will violate policy or engage in illegal activity. Workplace surveillance ethics extend beyond what takes place on a company’s assets though. Another issue is companies’ following their employees’ personal media accounts, the source of frequent complaints. Nevertheless, a person has the ability to render their social media accounts private so that only their friends on the network can view them. Companies have the right to view social media profiles that are publicly accessible. They do not, however, have the right to request their employees’ social media passwords.

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