Can Your Employer Monitor Your Computer While You Work From Home?
Under Some Circumstances, Yes.
It may come as no surprise to hear that your employer can monitor your activity while you’re working in the office, using employer-owned devices. But with more people than ever working from home these days, the line between work and personal time can become a bit blurred.
You may be surprised to hear that your employer can—and probably is—monitoring your activity while you’re on the clock at home.
Your Rights Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1998
The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1998 provides some protections for employee privacy in the workplace; however, it does allow your employer to keep tabs on your devices for its own best interests. Acceptable reasons for monitoring your devices and activities include:
- Ensuring you’re keeping up your productivity.
- To monitor your conversations with customers if your role is customer-facing.
- To detect bullying or harassment.
- To ensure that confidential data stays confidential.
Your employer has an obligation to keep any files and records generated from monitoring activity confidential and securely stored.
Before your employer can monitor your activity legally, they need to notify you that you’re being monitored and get your signed consent. However, employers sometimes bury this disclosure in stacks of onboarding paperwork or your employee handbook, where you may not have seen it.
If you’re not sure what your employer’s policies are in this area, ask your Human Resources contact.
Ways Your Employer May Be Monitoring You at Home
If you’re working from home, there are a number of ways your employer could be monitoring you—whether you’re on your personal computer or a work computer.
If you’re on your employer’s network, your employer can monitor your activity on the Internet. Some employers have web filters that block access to certain websites—and this applies to all devices on that network, including personal cell phones, iPads, and computers.
If you have work email hosted by your company, your employer is probably monitoring that email. This is true no matter what device you’re using, or whether you’re working in the office or at home. If you’re using your work computer to access personal email, your employer may be peeking at your personal email, too.
It’s also not unusual for employers to listen in on phone calls done in the office on a landline—generally, they should stop eavesdropping if they realize it’s a personal call. However, your employer can’t monitor your phone calls when you’re working from home.
The exception is if you happen to be connected to an employer’s network. Your employer can also track your Internet activity on your personal phone if you’re using it while connected to your employer’s network, including tracking your call logs, photos, text messages, and other data.
Is Your Employer Violating Your Privacy? What To Do.
If you believe that your employer is unlawfully monitoring your activities while you work from home, you should speak to a knowledgeable employment attorney. Your attorney can help you determine the scope of the activity and whether it’s unlawful, and help you gain restitution in court if possible.
Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free, confidential consultation today.
The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.