The Financial Services Union (FSU) will today urge TDs and senators to consider new regulations and legislation to cover the technological surveillance of staff by their employers.
In an address to the Oireachtas Committee on Enterprise, Trade and Employment, the FSU will highlight the findings of a recent survey of its members which showed that employees had negative attitudes towards surveillance.
They viewed it as demoralising, stressful and indicating a lack of trust by employers.
Over half of those surveyed said they did not know if their office or home computer was monitored while almost one quarter of respondents reported that their employer had increased data collection on their work since they started working from home.
“Surveillance of staff by their employers and how data on staff is collected, stored, and used was always an issue that needed to be addressed,” according to opening remarks to be delivered by John O’Connell, General Secretary of the FSU.
“However, it seems clear from these findings there is a need for regulation and legislation to keep pace with the changing nature of technology,” Mr O’Connell will say.
The FSU will ask the committee to commission a report into the use of surveillance in the workplace with a view to exploring what, if any legislative changes may be required to protect workers.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Mr O’Connell said that during the pandemic a significant number of the people in the finance and fintech sectors moved to remote working and it is in that context that the FSU is highlighting this issue of people having a right to understand, in the first instance, what surveillance is carried out on them and then going beyond that with protections in place for workers.
Mr O’Connell said the type of surveillance depends on the role of the worker.
“It depends in terms of the level of surveillance, some would be telephony-based roles where calls are recorded and so forth. And while customers are warned on an ongoing basis, when you call a financial institution or another entity, they’re told immediately that this call may be recorded for training purposes, so you’re aware of going into the into the dialogue.
“But workers aren’t as aware, in terms of where the boundaries are, in terms of what’s being recorded and what’s been not recorded.
“And equally in terms of people who work on computer systems again, strokes and so forth, levels of activity being undertaken and so forth is being monitored and the extent of that monitoring and how that monitoring is being used is something that we would argue that workers are entitled to be first of all aware of and then protected about.”