By Nico Strydom
Much has been said recently about big technological role players that should put the privacy of consumers first and make data privacy one of their core values.
Businesses are fast making sure that they offer the digital consumer a safe space where their data will be protected 24 hours a day. And there is another important interested party whose privacy is important too. “Employees have just as much right to privacy in the workplace,” says Andrew Bourne, regional manager for Zoho Corporation in Africa and the Middle East.
“Recent tendencies such as remote working and hybrid models increased the importance of the privacy of employees.” Companies turned to a variety of digital collaborative and productivity instruments overnight to enable their workers to carry on with their daily activities. According to Bourne there wasn’t necessarily enough time to make sure that the technology was safe and free applications were also used.
“This fast transition didn’t come without risks, especially to employees. The increased use of technology for video conferences and online meetings drew the attention of hackers and in some cases meetings were penetrated. In addition this sound and video calls while working at home result in divergent details of employees’ personal lives being archived in providers’ data records, which means that the data can be at risk if the company does not have a strict data protection program.”
In other cases companies bought software to monitor their employees’ activities and actions. “Employees trust their employers to keep their data safe and use it responsibly. This trust is violated when employers keep employees in the dark about what their data are used for or when certain boundaries are crossed regarding the use of their information.
In terms of Popia, also known as the Protection of Personal Information Act, employers must make employees aware of the fact that their productivity and performance are being monitored and must give reasons for doing so. “The Regulation of Interception of Communications Act (Rica) restricts the interception of communication, except under very specific circumstances,” says Bourne.
According to the legal firm Webber Wentzel, Popia, from an employment perspective, applies to information such as identity numbers, contact details, work history, psychometric assessment results, references, qualifications, disciplinary records, trade union membership, grievances, as well as health and biometric information.
Employers must therefore see to it that they legally process the personal information of applicants, employees, retired employees and dismissed employees.
Zoho Corporation: https://www.zohocorp.com/
Webber Wentzel: https://www.webberwentzel.com/News/Pages/popia-what-employers-need-to-know.aspx