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Monitoring in the Workplace The Right to Employee Privacy Fourteen million employees -- just over one-third of the online workforce in the United States -- have their Internet or e-mail use under continuous surveillance at work Worldwide the number of employees under such surveillance is at 27 million just over one-quarter of the global online workforce In fact an average of 140 million a year is spent on surveillance equipment for an employee thats an average 525 per employee The increased use of and access to employee monitoring suggests that in the near future legislation will be needed to protect employee privacy rights But what exactly is monitoring in the workplace Monitoring in the workplace refers to the continuous surveillance of employees while on the job Employers may monitor any aspect of the employees day to day work activities by using surveillance cameras screening telephone calls tracking websites visited while on the Internet screening of e-mails and monitoring the number of keystrokes on an employees keyboard Other obscure but highly used methods of monitoring include requiring employees to take drug tests and psychological tests But why do companies monitor their employees Several reasons are to make sure that employees are doing their jobs to make sure that they are not stealing from the company and to ensure that employees are not misusing company property such as the Internet or telephone It is estimated that employers eavesdrop on 400 million telephone calls every year Also it has been found that 78 of workers log on to the Internet for non-work purposes according to a study done in June 2001 by NetRatings In addition it was found that every one out of those ten visited adult websites while on the Net In rare instances companies monitor to ensure that employees are not working for competitors Last year the number of respondents who reported receiving confidential e-mail leaks jumped from 92 to 241 But do any
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