In this new day & age with technology taking society by storm, the advances of technology have allowed employers a deeper look into their employee’s productivity. Companies across the world have implemented tracking, recording, and ranking programs to monitor their employees and the work they are producing. As an employee, these programs bring forward many questions and concerns regarding their own privacy.
With remote work booming since the Covid-19 pandemic, tracking employee’s work online and on their devices has only become easier. Whether it’s an “idle” button, screen monitoring, or phone recordings, employees are being tracked in some way. Most notably, Amazon has been scrutinized for their second-by-second measurements of their delivery drivers. According to the New York Times, eight out of 10 of the nation’s largest private employers track the productivity of individual workers in real time.
As more and more ways to track employee’s come out, it begs the question “how legal is it to track an employee?” The law provides little guidance as to what a company must disclose to workers or how to deploy metrics in pay or firing decisions. One of the biggest problems about these tracking/monitoring measures comes into play when companies punish workers for not meeting certain requirements when being monitored.
Amazon on Tracking Employees
A New York Times article sheds light on some of the measures Amazon has taken to track their employees. For years, Amazon ran a policy called “time off task” that essentially recorded every time a warehouse worker was pausing in their work. This meant that the time a warehouse employee used the restroom during their shift would count as “time off” of their work or tasks. The company took it a step farther when they were seen firing praised employees after seeing a bad day based on the “time off task” policy.
However, with new California regulations on warehouse metrics, Amazon has been singing a different tune as of late. Although the company still tracks and calculates their worker’s pace, managers have been directed to only look at “idle” periods lasting longer than 15 minutes. A spokeswoman for Amazon, Kelly Nantel, states that the new rules are meant to recognize the need for employees to do things like, spend a few minutes in the restroom or talk to a co-worker. (New York Times, Kantor & Sundaram (2022)).
What Can Employees Do to Protect Their Privacy?
First and foremost, if you are an employee who believes their employer is acting illegally in anyway, it’s vital to contact an attorney. Employer’s generally have their own legal counsel, which makes it easy for companies to take advantage of their employees. An attorney can help you understand what rights you have and the possibility of recovering on your claim.
As technology continues to improve, it may become harder and harder to actually see what your employer is recording and tracking. Its growth even makes it difficult for the government to regulate it. Contact an attorney today to learn more about what you can do as an employee or employer to protect yourself against this new age of monitoring.