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I am the only employee with access to the CCTV system but I have never been certified in CCTV operation and we do not have a CCTV policy. I inherited it as I am the IT Systems Administrator.

HR have asked me to confirm if an employee was at their station as their overtime form claims.

I feel like this is a violation of their privacy, goes against any code of conduct for CCTV use, is not included as a possibility of monitoring in the Employee Handbook and it compromises my integrity and relationship with fellow employees.

I've raised the concern with my boss and HR but they have sent the request again, this time asking for more details and more dates to check.

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How is it a vioation of their privacy? They are aware of the cameras are they not? They are aware that the company might check the records at any time? Don't say there are not aware of the cameras, you don't work in a building, without that knowlege. –  Ramhound Sep 2 at 11:16
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@Ramhound: well, in my workplace, there are CCTV cams, but their presence is not mentioned in any document or intranet guide. Unless you meant that no one has noticed them? –  Juha Untinen Sep 2 at 11:22
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What if the boss refused to pay the overtime without proof and the other employee then asked you to look at the CCTV? –  Ian Sep 2 at 15:07
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"certified in CCTV operation"? Is that even a thing? –  Kevin Sep 2 at 18:54
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Since there may be legal issues here, you should clarify what country you are in, and possibly what state. Otherwise, you may get answers that do not match your particular jurisdiction. –  David Wallace Sep 2 at 19:53

7 Answers 7

up vote 36 down vote accepted

You tell HR and/or your boss that you have serious doubts about this (your already did) and you ask the request in writing (email is fine), backed up by pointers to relevant parts of the Employee Handbook, your contract and/or the law in your country.

You don't have to act confrontational about this, but you have to be firm and get across that you really have a concern that you want to have resolved, and that you want your back covered by a written request in case your concern turns out to be correct.

Note: Depending on law (and legal issues are off-topic here) the presence of the cameras itself may not imply that they can be used for monitoring the employees.

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"ask the request in writing (email is fine)" I agree. –  Jonast92 Sep 2 at 12:44
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Right. You should also create a written report in response to these requests. It should state who made the request and when, what camera's recording you looked at and the dates and times you looked at, and what you found. It should also say when you looked at the information. "Per Jack Hammer's request of 07:45EDT September 2, 2014: According to a recording of camera 17A, examined at 08:20EDT on Sept 2, 2014, George Slacker was at his desk working at 18:45EDT on August 27, 2014 --Dan". –  user987654 Sep 2 at 13:49
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I'd say "by instruction of" or something similar, rather than just saying that somebody requested the information. To me, that implies that the instruction was non-binding and you had no issues going ahead and filling it. –  Lightness Races in Orbit Sep 2 at 18:37

Let me answer this by asking you another question.

If a co-worker was abused or attacked by a colleague, and they asked you to produce the video of an area at a date and time? Would you comply?

I believe you would.

You should do the same here, because there is no difference.


How about if they asked you for the video of a location at a date and time, and didn't tell you why. Would you comply then?


I work in a bank. We have cameras that are small, and honking large ones. Everywhere.

There is nothing stated in the company policy about cameras. Its obvious that there are cameras around, and if there are, there are people watching.

So it is absolutely reasonable to expect that cameras will be used for monitoring and as well as evidence.

I fear you may be putting your own integrity on the line for a fellow colleague; ignoring any legal complications as they can vary from place to place (and industry to industry); as long as the request is documented and is delivered through the normal, appropriate channels - I do not see anything unreasonable here.

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@Dan: I created a chat room for this. I'll leave it open for a while if anyone is interested in discussion: chat.stackexchange.com/rooms/16865/… –  Joel Etherton Sep 2 at 14:47
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Please avoid using comments for extended discussion. Instead, please get a room, a chat room. Comments are intended to help improve a post. Please see What "comments" are not... for more details. –  Monica Cellio Sep 3 at 2:01

There are clearly legal implications to that request. See for example http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/workplace-cameras-surveillance-employer-rules-35730.html or http://employment.findlaw.com/workplace-privacy/can-employers-use-video-cameras-to-monitor-workers.html

So it's possible the your boss asks you to do something potentially illegal. Hence you should ask your boss and HR for complete indemnification. You have no way of knowing whether the ask is legal and whether your employer has followed all the legal requirements for doing so. So it's perfectly fine to ask (politely, respectfully but insistently) to have written documentation from the employer that states

  1. They have followed all relevant legal guidelines for use of CCTV cameras to monitor employee
  2. All employees have been properly notified that the monitoring takes place and to what purposes the monitoring is used (and isnt')
  3. The company authorizes you to do exactly "insert_very_specific_instructions", nothing more, nothing less
  4. Should there be any legal consequences, the company takes full responsibility and completely indemnifies you against any legal recourse from any employee or the company itself

With any luck, this list should scare them off unless they have their act fully together. If they do, you can safely follow through with the request, exactly as outlined in point 3.

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@Pepone: That very much depends on the country. In Sweden I wouldn't be surprised if it was illegal. –  Leo Sep 2 at 18:53
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@Pepone: It's probably illegal in the UK as well (EU rules on privacy) –  MSalters Sep 2 at 19:49
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@Pepone the percentage is definitely not that high, India alone accounts for a solid stream of questions on this site (largely due, I would say, to "unusual" employer/employee dynamics in that country). –  Carson63000 Sep 3 at 1:57
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@Pepone Please do not assume that users are in a anglo-saxon country, just because SE sites are in English. This is not true at all as large percentage of the user-base are from non-english speaking countries. Many people learn English as a second language. Your 99% are certainly not even close to the true percentage. –  dirkk Sep 3 at 12:10

As both an IT Director and Security Director for the company I work for, I can tell you that at least in the US this sort of thing is a pretty common requirement for someone in your position. In fact I've even seen retail establishments where they had little or no CCTV coverage of customer areas, but lots of cameras covering employee work areas for just that reason.

Over reporting your hours is a form of fraud, and as such "Employee Handbooks" and other corporate policies and procedures go out the window as far as CCTV and privacy are concerned, because the business is now investigating a potential fraud committed against them.

For the record, I've never actually heard of someone being prosecuted for 'payroll fraud' at any company I've worked for, but I've seen lots of people get fired for it.

The way I look at it, it's one thing if someone is coming in a few minutes late, but when you have people coming in 20 or 30 minutes or even hours late, and claiming the same pay they would earn had they actually worked those hours, it's a crime and the employee should not be surprised if it results in their termination.

In simpler terms, most employees are compensated based on the hours they work. If they are lying about how many hours they are working to get more money than they've actually earned, they are stealing from the company.

So my advice is do what they're asking, because they have every right to ask.

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In the UK (as per the United-Kingdom tag), businesses must explicitly state that employees are being recorded in their contract and signs must be put up.

Additionally you must release CCTV footage to anyone captured on them upon request.

Please see gov.uk

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At least have the common decency to tell the employee that he will be monitored (if you decide to do so).

And contact a lawyer. The indemnification mail mentioned above doesn't work in the jurisdiction where I live, especially not when it should happen to turn out that you get a prison sentence.

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It is a very bad idea to contact the employee who is being targeted by an investigation. That is grounds for termination. –  kleineg Sep 3 at 14:29

What privacy is violated by using CCTV to check when they entered and exited the building the build or are at their desk or not? Employers do have a right to check up on hours worked and in some country’s not logging OT hours correctly can get the employer fined.

What code of conduct for CCTV are you referring to? And its not like you have been asked to look at the content of their email account which would be a privacy violation.

You seem concerned about your relationship with other employees is there a culture of falsifying time sheets at your company – what I might term “Spanish” practices.

Just get all HR requests in writing and make sure you conform this with your boss.

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The legality depends on the law in his country, so your first sentence is just an assumption. You may want to update your answer. –  Jan Doggen Sep 2 at 12:13
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What privacy would be violated if the CCTV is checked and the employee is nowhere in sight? –  gnasher729 Sep 2 at 20:35
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@SteveJessop: Attempting to place video surveillance equipment in non-public places (e.g. areas that only employees can enter), at least without telling everyone concerned, can be an offence in and of itself. In some jurisdictions, footage from surveillance cameras that were installed as a general measure (i.e. not based on a concrete suspicion against a concrete person) is inadmissible as evidence in labor courts to justify firing someone even if an employee is shown stealing property of the company, so I wouldn't expect any better chances if the footage shows the employee being absent. –  O. R. Mapper Sep 3 at 9:08

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