date: Wednesday 8 January
embargo: Thursday 9 January
The TUC has today (Thursday) urged Richard Thomas, the new Information Commissioner, to resist employer lobbying and publish the delayed code of practice on monitoring of staff email and internet use.
The latest draft of the unimplemented code gets it about right, according to the TUC, it makes employers have a justifiable reason before breaching employee privacy. It provides clear guidance on how the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) regulates employers use of email and internet monitoring, CCTV cameras and covert surveillance to monitor staff. The absence of the code has meant employers and workers have lacked clear guidance on their legal rights and responsibilities under data protection laws which have been in force for over a year.
The TUC supports the Commissioners suggestion to produce a shorter guide for small businesses. But this must supplement rather than replace the code and should not delay its implementation any further.
Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary Elect, said:
We have been waiting more than a year for a code of practice. Employees and employers have been left in legal limbo. There has been adequate consultation and the first item on the new Information Commissioners agenda should be the publication of the code of practice.
'He should resist the last gasp employer lobbying to weaken the code. He should publish and be praised.
The TUC is ready to work in partnership with the Commissioner and employers on advising workers. This is a complex new area of law and clear guidance is urgently needed.'
Notes to editor:
A first draft of the code was issued by the Information Commissioners Office in 2000, in preparation for the relevant provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 coming into effect in October 2001. Since then the Code has been subject to three rounds of consultation in which the TUC, unions and employers representatives have been fully involved.
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