Do I need to give consent for my employer to monitor me at work?

Employers must generally inform staff about any monitoring arrangements and should, through proper consultation, take account of any objections that staff have to those arrangements. However, employers who can justify monitoring on the basis of a properly conducted impact assessment do not generally need the consent of individual workers. To the extent that consent is needed, employers tend to include a written term in the contract of employment, so that employees 'consent' to the monitoring when they sign their contract.

Even if workers freely give their consent, the employer should still conduct an objective impact assessment to make sure that the monitoring is necessary and justified and that any negative effects are outweighed by the benefits that the monitoring arrangements will bring.

Clearly express informed consent is required where an employer sets out to collect sensitive data (for example, information about workers’ health) through monitoring.

There is an exemption to allow employers to collect data to monitor equality of opportunity, as long as the exercise is carried out in a way that safeguards privacy (usually done by anonymising the results).

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.