Can an employer read employee email? Search an employee's workspace or bag? Monitor what employees say on the phone -- or what they post on Facebook or Twitter? Learn what you can and can't do -- and commonsense tips for avoiding problems.
Technology now makes it possible for employers to keep track of virtually all workplace communications by any employee, on the phone and in cyberspace. And many employers take advantage of these tracking devices: A survey of more than 700 companies by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)
Questions Can I fire a worker whose personal beliefs clash with mine? Can I read my employees' email messages? Can I monitor my workers' phone calls to make sure they are properly serving my customers? Can I randomly search my employees as they leave the workplace to minimize theft? What are the rules
It happens to even the best employers: a sudden rash of thefts, a worker threatening violence, or some other possible misconduct or illegal activity in your workplace. Your first step must be to investigate the situation. (For tips on how to conduct an investigation, see Investigate a Workplace Complaint).
Generally, you should treat personnel files as private records belonging to you and your individual employees. You don't want to allow just anyone in the company to rummage through the performance evaluations, salaries, and job applications of coworkers. At the same time, you need to keep medical records separate. Take the time to learn the rules regarding record confidentiality in order to avoid problems down the line.
Workplace testing has become increasingly popular, as employers screen their workers in an effort to determine who is the best candidate for hiring or promotion. As long as a test is designed to predict a worker's actual ability to do the job (and is relatively non-invasive), it is probably legal. For example, an employer can generally require typing tests for clerical jobs or agility/strength tests for positions requiring those skills.
Today, employers have the technological means, and occasionally the inclination, to find out what workers are doing on their own time. However, your right to monitor your employees' conduct off the job -- and make decisions based on that conduct -- is limited. If your investigation or questions invade
Many employers use cameras and video surveillance at the workplace, often to prevent theft or to monitor what employees are actually doing while on the clock. As long as the company has a legitimate need to film, the areas under surveillance are public, and employees know about the filming, these practices are likely to be upheld by a court. Because filming can implicate privacy rights, however, employers must be very careful not to cross the line.
Question: The owner of the company I work for just announced a new policy for the New Year: Any employee who smokes must quit within the next three months or be fired. Employees who smoke can sign up for smoking cessation programs to help them quit, which the company will pay for. But anyone who is still
Question: I am a newly divorced dad, and the court ordered me to pay child support. Rather than just telling me how much I owe each month and letting me figure out how to pay it, the court issued a wage garnishment order. Now, almost a third of my take-home pay, after deductions and tax withholding,