New polling from Prospect has found that one in three (32%) workers are now being monitored at work – up from a quarter (24%) just 6 months ago in April.
This includes a doubling of the use of camera monitoring in people’s homes, with 13% of homeworkers currently being monitored by cameras compared to 5% 6 months ago.
The polling, which was conducted by Opinium, also found that 80% of workers thought that the use of webcams to monitor remote workers should either be banned (52%) or heavily regulated (28%) with only 8% of workers thinking that employers should be allowed to decide unilaterally when to use cameras to monitor people working in their own homes. The findings extend to supporters of all political parties, with 74% of Conservative voters agreeing that the use of webcam monitoring in people’s homes should be banned or heavily regulated.
The finding comes as the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is reviewing guidance to employers on the use of new technologies such as monitoring.
Younger workers (18-34) are particularly at risk with a significantly higher rate of monitoring than their older colleagues. Overall 48% of younger workers report being monitored at work, including 20% being monitored using cameras.
Prospect is concerned that this intrusive monitoring is particularly affecting workers in sectors with higher levels of remote working, larger proportions of younger workers, and low levels of trade union membership- such as the tech sector.
Prospect general secretary Mike Clancy said: “We are used to the idea of employers checking up on workers, but when people are working in their own homes this assumes a whole new dimension.
“New technology allows employers to have a constant window into their employee’s homes, and the use of the technology is largely unregulated by the government.
“We think that we need to upgrade the law to protect the privacy of workers and set reasonable limits on the use of this snooping technology, and the public overwhelmingly agrees with us.”
Pat Harrington, General Secretary of Solidarity union, commented: “You really have to wonder about the 8 percent of people who think it’s OK for bosses to monitor people in their own homes without any regulation! Clearly, this is not acceptable and we need to ensure workers are protected from this kind of intrusive surveillance.“