The workplace of the future’s legal considerations
The increasingly tense intersection between technology and privacy in the workplace is an issue requiring ongoing monitoring by C.I.O.s and Boards of Directors. But as technology is used more widely in offices, what are the legal ramifications and what part will AV and AI play?
With employees being more closely monitored, the law can change on a case by case basis as regulations struggle to keep pace with technology.
Take the case of Jeremy Lee who was fired for refusing to give his fingerprints to his employer, claiming his biometric data was his own. Mr Lee was fired by the firm but recently won an appeal to the Full Bench of the Fairwork Commission.
On the matter of email surveillance, the law is very clear. The employer owns the communication platform, like the rest of the company’s IT system, and can survey every access point and every device connected to the network. Even when an employee opens their personal inbox such as Gmail in the office they are likely to fall within the same monitoring systems.
Increased vigilance around bullying and sexual harassment has also led many tech companies to seek solutions that could be considered invasive. It’s technically possible to record and monitor all conversations in a workplace and have AI search for signs of bullying and harassment. However, laws vary from State to State about the recording of conversations even with consent. Associate Director of Law Squared, Catherine Brooks, says a better response is through staff training and appropriate response by management.
“Where there is inappropriate conduct at a staffing level, this will normally be brought to management’s attention by other staff members and once the issue has been dealt with the appropriate training or disciplinary measures can be adopted.” said Brooks.
Technology is also helping to make bullying and harassment easier to report in the workplace with one European team developing a Chatbot called Spot which asks about and records a person’s experiences, collating the notes in a PDF document and sending it to the HR Department.
Brooks says this system would be useful in that it could flag repeat offenders and proactively train those in breach of the code
“This tool could prove useful for the collation of a chronology of events and recording of notes. However, we always want to see early intervention so we would hope that there would be prompts and offers of assistance to process any claim to resolve claims,” she said.