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Workers must be protected from employers spying on them, Labour says

WORKERS must be protected from employers tracking them while they work from home during the pandemic, Labour said today.

Online software can log how long it takes people to reply to messages, take camera shots and monitor emails, messages and meeting attendance.

One in five firms have introduced software to monitor productivity, or are planning to do so, according to a YouGov survey of more than 2,009 “corporate decision-makers” between October and November.

One in seven employees have said that surveillance at work has increased during the pandemic, according to TUC research.

The TUC also found that software is playing a part in redundancy decisions, leading to an increased risk of discrimination against disabled workers or those with caring and parenting responsibilities.

Labour is calling for the government to urgently update guidance on employment practices to reflect the increased use of such software.

Shadow digital minister Chi Onwurah said: “Ministers must urgently provide better regulatory oversight of online surveillance software to ensure that people have the right to privacy, whether at work or at home — increasingly one and the same place.” 

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: “Worker surveillance tech has taken off during this pandemic as more people have been forced to work from home.

“Staff must be properly consulted on the use of surveillance at work and protected from unfair management by algorithm.”

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