Physical security | Surveillance

Workplace Video Surveillance Policy

Video surveillance systems help prevent theft, harassment, and vandalism. Read about the workplace policies, video surveillance rights and boundaries.

12 min reading time

Workplace Video Surveillance Policy

Updated on December 30, 2022

Written by Ashley Davis

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Video surveillance systems protect both the employer and the employees. Video surveillance is common in many workplaces, especially those with inventory or cash, like financial institutions and retail stores. Companies monitor their employees for various reasons, such as preventing harassment, theft, and vandalism.

Employers installing video surveillance systems in the workplace face a huge challenge - finding the right balance between monitoring their business while protecting privacy and providing a stress-free environment for their employees.

Privacy rights are often of concern, so it’s important that both employees and employers know their video surveillance rights and boundaries.

Workplace Video Surveillance - The Employer Perspective #

Theft prevention #

Even though most employees do the right thing, employee theft affects companies daily. The staggering stats say internal theft costs U.S. businesses up to $50 billion a year. The loss from employee theft can cause serious damage to any company and is particularly painful for small businesses.

Stealing money, inventory, or supplies is the obvious form of theft. Employees can account for up to half of the inventory shrinkage, stealing either for their own personal use or to later resell it.

Video surveillance integrated with a modern access control system can help mitigate potential theft or catch thieves in the act. For further protection, you can keep more costly inventory items locked up securely, granting access only to the appropriate people.

Proactively, the system will provide a record of thieves who can damage the company or bad actors who disclose confidential company data. Implementing a modern access control system will also prevent employees from “stealing time” by altering their in and out times.

In addition to employee theft, businesses that accept foot traffic have to worry about other forms of theft as well. In cases where your business is open to the public, both inventory and cash loss can be a concern. Knowing there is a surveillance program in place can mitigate potential threats and thwart would-be thieves.

An image showing a man reaching out for an item in a storage room

Enhance staff security #

Using video surveillance in the workplace is an excellent way for businesses to protect employees from assaults and harassment. Monitoring every visitor that enters the facility and keeping the video recordings of suspicious activity reactively protects employees. For instance, you can use the recorded cases of employee or material abuse or harassment as evidence that can aid police investigations and serve as evidence in court.

A well-designed video surveillance system may provide 100% security coverage of your facility. The multiple tactically placed cameras create a security mesh you can easily supervise. This empowers you to keep your employees safe and monitor vulnerable locations while ensuring that human mistakes will never compromise security measures.

Integrating video surveillance with modern access control solutions like Kisi will further secure your employees. You can get notifications directly to your mobile when a door is forced or propped open or explore the event log for potential safety concerns.

Resolve workplace conflict #

Disagreements are bound to happen regardless of the business or workplace size. Besides keeping your employees and assets secure, the video surveillance system can greatly increase productivity and morale, especially when staff disagreements occur.

Conflict can arise between the employees themselves or between them and their managers, and figuring things out before they escalate is crucial. Rewatching the surveillance camera footage will minimize bias and give undeniable proof for a more efficient conflict resolution.

Increase efficiency #

Implementing a video surveillance policy can give valuable insight into the usage of company resources. For best results, have clear goals and communicate them with your employees.

People thinking you monitor them to hold them accountable for every minute they spend can be counterproductive. Some will feel like you violate their privacy and that they’re micro-managed, which will likely demoralize them.

Instead of creating a hostile work environment, surveillance systems can better align the employees with the company. Use the system to analyze the work environments instead of the individuals. Explore how the team performs the work, find potential gaps, and analyze the data to improve the processes. The company and the employees will benefit from creating a more efficient and less frustrating work environment.

You can also ensure you meet compliance requirements by tracking employee activity. Maintenance workers, for instance, can uncover equipment that requires repair or that functions in a hazardous manner by utilizing video surveillance cameras. The surveillance system generally supports identifying issues early on as they arise so you can correct them before they escalate.

Integrating your video surveillance and access control system will increase the efficiency of your IT team. With modern systems like Kisi, they will no longer have to deal with fixing support issues, updating the access control system, or even issuing lost credentials.

An image showing a security camera installed near an office door

HR’s role #

While everyone plays a part in workplace surveillance laws, the human resource department’s role is one of the most important. Employers have an obligation to provide a safe workspace for all employees. HR professionals are essential for the execution of this.

HR works to ensure reasonable and effective practices protect the employees while also minimizing the risk of any employer liability. Due to their integral role in policies and procedures, involve your HR team in surveillance implementation and any related communication.

Privacy laws companies must follow #

We all cherish privacy regardless of the environment. Employees can often perceive cameras at work as an invasion of their privacy when the purposes are unclear.

Although laws vary state by state, the same general theme of reasonable privacy carries through. In California, it’s illegal to install a one-way mirror (where one side looks like a mirror, but from the other side, it’s like a window) in any restroom or locker room. Similarly, in Connecticut, it’s illegal for employers to use video surveillance in areas designed for employee rest and comfort, such as restrooms or employee lounges.

Some states do not have specific laws regarding workplace privacy, but a reasonable expectation of privacy still exists. Certain employee activities, such as using the restroom or changing in a locker room, are considered to be very reasonable expectations of privacy. This is one aspect of what courts look at to determine whether an employee’s privacy was violated.

The second interest courts look at is the employer’s need to conduct video surveillance. For instance, if a camera is in a “private” area, such as a restroom, it would be very difficult for an employer to supply a valid argument as to why any filming in that area was necessary.

For more information about state-specific legislation, check our article on employee privacy.

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Workplace Video Surveillance - The Employee Perspective #

Invasion of privacy #

Even though video surveillance has the potential to enhance productivity, it can quickly get counterproductive when taken to the extreme. For instance, monitoring can become a real issue if it expands to places like break rooms.

Employees can intuitively get the good intention of having video security cameras at the entrance and security-sensitive areas. If you want to install more advanced surveillance systems, employees can perceive this as an invasion of their privacy.

Different people will tolerate different levels and forms of surveillance.
Being transparent with the employees and elaborating on the benefits of the video surveillance system should make them feel more comfortable.

Increased stress and anxiety #

Video surveillance impacts how employees engage with their work and behave in the workplace. This phenomenon is called the Hawthorne Effect. The video system will provide a piece of mind to some employees, yet it will increase the stress and anxiety of others.

It also might create a sense of distrust between workers and employers. Employees might be under the impression their employers suspect they might be engaged in nefarious behavior, so they are under constant surveillance.

Some team members might be anxious if they are productive enough or taking more breaks than necessary. Some will feel less motivated to build relationships with their coworkers, worrying they must perform most efficiently and productively.

Some employers might consider this a benefit at first. In the long run, it can actually lead to lower engagement and productivity, burnout, and even injuries in the workplace.

An image showing a stressed employee leaning at an office door

What are your rights as an employee that is being filmed? #

Employees can exercise their right to sue. They can also speak up if they feel surveillance cameras wrongfully invade their privacy.

Most security cameras lack audio because any audio recordings require the consent of recording by all parties involved. Thus, employees typically have a valid claim of invasion of privacy if an instance arises involving audio unknowingly being recorded.

Workplace surveillance laws allow cameras to be used only for legitimate business reasons. These laws are in place to guide employers while protecting employees’ rights.

Besides being unable to use surveillance in private areas, employers are not allowed to use video to monitor any union activity. The National Labor Relations Act that prohibits this also states that employers cannot use surveillance in a way intended to intimidate current or prospective union members

Effective Employee Monitoring #

The idea of using video surveillance in any company typically has good intentions. Placing a camera near the workplace door, makes it easy for management to monitor who goes in and out of the space. This is vital in preventing potential intruders.

Get notifications on your phone if forced entry occurs, or a door is propped open by integrating your cameras with a modern access system like Kisi.

Cameras throughout the building can also be helpful, as people are less likely to steal something if they are aware someone could be watching. The same goes for employees. Cameras near the lockers or even in the back storage areas minimize the chances of theft in the workplace.

As long as the camera locations are public and obvious enough to where any passerby would notice them, there shouldn't be any issues as to whether or not filming is obstructing an individual's privacy.

Ineffective Employee Monitoring #

Problems arise when employers place cameras in more “secretive” places. Hidden cameras around the workplace or in arguably private areas can rile employees up.

In general, everyone understands the need for some security cameras throughout a business. Still, it’s reasonable for employees to expect and demand to keep certain moments private. Not being transparent and honest with employees about video surveillance in the workplace only leads to future problems for employers.

An image showing a warning 24 hour video surveillance sign

Disclosure of Surveillance Records #

Besides the rules that regulate video surveillance even occurring, there are rules regarding what can be done with surveillance records after the fact. Any records created as a result of workplace video surveillance are not to be used or disclosed except in certain circumstances.

Exceptions include a legitimate purpose related to employment or business functions, a requirement that the footage is presented to law enforcement or a need for the footage in civil or criminal proceedings.

Integrate your video surveillance with Kisi #

Enhance your workplace security by integrating your video surveillance with Kisi. Installing a cloud-based access control system that works seamlessly with the near-entrance cameras will ensure maximal benefits with minimal disadvantages.

You'll rest assured that only the right people are entering your workplace. Easily manage visitors and make the most out of Kisi's user-friendly dashboard, like granting or revoking access with a single click.

Your employees can use their phones to enter their spaces, so they won't have to worry about losing their credentials again. Boost productivity by enhancing their sense of protection and decreasing their stress and anxiety. Contact our team today and secure your future.

Ashley Davis

Ashley is obsessed with words, Chinese food and all things tech.

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