Within a dynamic business reality, in an era of digitalisation and rapid technological advances, employers are increasingly turning to various tools to increase efficiency and ensure safety in the workplace. One of these measures is CCTV (Closed-Circuit TeleVision, also known as a monitoring), which can technically include both image (vision monitoring) and audio recording. While these technologies can bring many benefits to the workplace, it is important that employers are aware of the legal requirements associated with their use.
Unlimited privacy rights?
An employee has the right to protection of their privacy, both in their private and professional life, in particular in the context of the processing of their personal data. However, this right may experience restrictions in certain situations. One of such limitations is the introduction of visual monitoring by the employer. When deciding to take this step, the employer should first carefully consider whether the CCTV is necessary and put in place the appropriate procedures required by the Polish legislator.
When is CCTV allowed?
Both the provisions of the Polish Labour Code and Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27.04.2016 (General Data Protection Regulation; GDPR), clearly define the possibility of using visual (image) monitoring, thus excluding the use of sound recording devices in the workplace.
Although an employer may introduce visual monitoring, but only for specific purposes, such as:
- protecting the safety of employees,
- protection of property,
- production control,
- maintaining company secrets, the disclosure of which could expose the employer to harm.
Moreover, in order to justify the use of visual monitoring in the workplace, three principles must be met simultaneously:
- necessity – visual monitoring is an indispensable method for securing the purposes listed above;
- protection of employee’s dignity and personal rights – in principle, it is unacceptable to install cameras in places such as changing rooms, canteens, sanitary facilities or smoking rooms;
- freedom and independence of trade unions – it is not possible to install monitoring in premises made available to a company trade union organisation.
How to incorporate vision monitoring?
The employer must first establish:
- manner in which the monitoring should be applied,
in a collective agreement or in work regulation or in a notice.
The next step is to inform employees in written form about the installation of the CCTV, and this should be done at least two weeks before the video monitoring is activated.
Premises where visual monitoring is used should be clearly marked as being monitored.
The CCTV recordings may only be stored for the period of time necessary for the purposes of processing the data, but no longer than three months from the date of recording. The only exception to this is if the recordings constitute or may constitute evidence in legal proceedings.
Sanctions and liability
A breach of the provisions on CCTV by the employer may bring not only sanctions under the Polish Labour Code, but also sanctions under the GDPR Regulation or the Polish Personal Data Protection Act. In addition, in a situation where an employee’s personal rights have been violated, the employee may pursue claims in court under the Polish Civil Law Code.
Vision monitoring in the workplace is a tool with great potential, but it also carries the risk of violating employees’ rights. Therefore, it is important that employers approach this issue with the necessary caution and always comply with applicable laws, respecting the privacy and dignity of their employees. By developing a reasonable vision monitoring policy, potential problems can be avoided, and a balance can be struck between the rights of the employer and the privacy of employees.
If you are interested in the topic of ensuring the security of your organisation through visual monitoring, our law office will be happy to support you in the effective implementation of a monitoring policy and answer any questions or concerns you may have.
Zofia Kwiatkowska, Legal assistant