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CCTV cameras in the workplace? Allowed or not?
14 September 2021
 
“We have had a spate of thefts in our business over the last few months. Yet none of our employees ever see anything or know anything, which have us thinking that the thefts may be wider than just one or two employees. We are considering installing CCTV cameras to monitor the situation and also prevent further thefts, but are unsure about the rules for monitoring employees with CCTV cameras and also using such footage should we pick up misconduct. Can you maybe advise on how we should go about this?”

CCTV monitoring is a useful tool for improving security and identifying misconduct in the workplace. However, the ability of an employer to monitor employee conduct via such a tool is not unfettered, and an employer should take heed of the following aspects before installing a CCTV system or other form of audiovisual monitoring of employees in the workplace.

An employer must be mindful of the right of privacy of employees. This enshrined constitutional right also finds further reinforcement in other legislation including the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) and the Regulation of Interception of Communicaton-Relation Information Act (RICA). Such legislation typically regulates the collection and processing of personal information and the interception or monitoring of communications respectively.

The effect of this is that employees must be aware that they will be surveilled and recorded and know the reasons therefore. This can be done verbally, in writing or via for example, signs that confirm the presence of CCTV cameras. Cameras should also be visible and not hidden, and may not be in private areas such as changing rooms or bathrooms. It may also be appropriate to include a consent to be monitored in employee contracts or conditions of employment. 

Such transparency regarding the monitoring of employees will assist the employer to comply with the relevant privacy legislation and contribute to the use of any evidence obtained via such recordings in disciplinary or criminal proceedings. 

Even the CCMA has confirmed that employers may install such security cameras in the workplace, provided employees are aware of the surveillance, the reason therefore and have a right to contest the placement of surveillance should there be privacy concerns. 

So, before you proceed with your CCTV surveillance, pay heed to the above requirements and if necessary, consult your attorney or labour specialist to help you implement your CCTV surveillance correctly.