Is It Legal To Monitor Employees In The Workplace?

Monitoring employees can greatly benefit a business and its staff. The information obtained not only can increase workplace productivity but also protect the business from online and insider threats. However, the question, “Is it legal to monitor employees?”, is still often asked. We discuss below what employers typically monitor and the legality of it. 

5 Typical Things Employers Monitor

  • Emails

With employees contacting clients, handling customer support tickets, and/or sending confidential information, it’s essential that employers monitor business emails. The typical reasons monitoring emails is done is to make sure jobs are being done correctly, no suspicious links are being clicked on, and that business secrets aren’t being shared.

  • Phone Calls And Text Messages

If you’re an employer, you want to check that your employees are ONLY making business-related phone calls and text messages. Taking personal calls or texts not only wastes company hours but decreases productivity as well.

  • Social Media Activity

Social media use is a huge time-wasting activity. Employers don’t want to see their staff on it too often (unless it’s their job). Also, it’s common to check employees’ social profiles to make sure they’re presenting themselves appropriately and aren’t bad-mouthing the company.

  • Web Browsing History

There are a number of reasons why employers want to monitor their staff members’ web browsing history. Some of them include making sure they’re doing their job tasks, visiting secure sites, and aren’t slacking off.

  • Location

Location monitoring only pertains to people who work in the field, like a salesperson. With the freedom of not being in the office, these employees are often less productive. So, employers feel the need to track their location to ensure they’re where they should be and aren’t straying from their route.

Is It Legal To Monitor Employees?

Now that you know what’s typically monitored by employers, is it legal? For company-owned devices, vehicles, and email systems, the answer is yes. Businesses have the right to monitor anything that happens on their property.

However, the legality of monitoring employees’ personal devices (even when used for work) is different. According to The Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, it’s illegal to intercept any information that you’re not authorized to view. If an employer wants to monitor work activities on personal devices, they must have written consent to do so.


So, it is legal to monitor employees on company-owned devices. However, the best practice is to have a written monitoring policy that all employees are aware of and agree to. When employees are being secretly monitored and are constantly walking on eggshells, it’s hard for a business to succeed. Transparency regarding employee monitoring and expectations is key to have a cohesive business team.

If you’re interested, learn more about our employee monitoring software.

Categories: Tips For Business