Evolving Workplaces and Rising Employee Privateness Points (Half-2) – The RMLNLU Laws Consider Weblog

By: Vrinda Nargas and Namrata Jeph

(This submit is the second of a two half assortment on the topic – ‘A Watchful Eye at Work: Evolving Workplaces and Rising Employee Privateness Points’)


Security of 1’s id occupies a central place inside the privateness space. Medical information is taken into consideration to be a type of data that has an reasonably priced expectation of privateness.[1] Diversified workplaces have compulsory AIDS, drugs, and lie detector or voice exams for stress evaluation. Compulsory vaccination of employees on the workplace and making employees endure assorted medical testing in mild of the pandemic – temperature screening and asking employees to provide medical information regarding earlier ailments have moreover been employees at positive workplace set-ups.

Inside the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, various governments and private sector firms mandated the utilization of the ‘Aarogya Setu’ software program in the middle of the early ranges of the pandemic, which adopted a centralized methodology to data assortment for contact tracing. Nonetheless, the mandate did not help in garnering the idea of the workers and most of the people at large, which is undoubtedly an vital side inside the success of such contact tracing and monitoring methods. The Residence Ministry, which had made it compulsory for its employees to acquire the app, was quick to revise its protection and roll once more the mandate, when the acute flaws associated to the app paying homage to the gathering of extraordinarily delicate data, acquired right here to mild. One different occasion of workplace surveillance is likely to be seen in corporates’ and authorities organizations’ option to introduce facial recognition experience for his or her employees for attendance capabilities, along with for measuring the mood of employees with the help of a “mood meter”. Whereas employees had been provided with the choice to revoke consent, the company is extra prone to roll out the experience all through all its workplaces, which raises questions on staff’ autonomy and privateness. Nonetheless, sooner than adopting such measures, it will likely be vital that organizations think about and adequately speak the necessity of such measures to the affected stakeholders, and likewise keep in mind any totally different measures which might be a lot much less intrusive and could be utilized to understand the similar perform.


At present, there is not a consolidated labor laws regime to govern workplace surveillance in India. By way of non-public data authorized tips such as a result of the Knowledge Experience Act, 2000 (“IT Act”) and the Knowledge Experience (Inexpensive Security Practices and Procedures and Delicate Non-public Data or Knowledge) Pointers, 2011 (“IT Pointers”) present some steering , although not explicit not notably regarding employee privateness. Half 43A of the IT Act and Pointers 5 and 6 of the IT Pointers emphasize that getting consent for personal data is a ought to, and Sections 70B and 72A prescribe penalties and punishment in case of unlawful disclosure of data. The COVID-19 pandemic has not solely led to an increase inside the amount of surveillance due to distant work settings nevertheless has moreover elevated the need for a sturdy mechanism to ample safeguard in opposition to the invasion of privateness of employees and their data.

Extra, because of COVID-19 pandemic and the evolving nature of labor, the strains between what constitutes non-public home and what constitutes work or workplace have develop into blurred, thereby rising the publicity of personal and delicate data and information inside organizational applications. The definition of the time interval “workplace” is evolving, and points which will come up due to distant work are the recording of additional time, the statutory price requirements, and maintenance of knowledge. Imprecise terminology in current authorized tips and the scarcity of a sturdy legislative framework that caters to the security of employees’ privateness rights make them suspect of misuse by organizations.

Inside the context of the employer-employee relationship and data privateness, one ought to look to the Non-public Data Security Bill, 2019 (“the Bill”). Half 13 of the Bill permits employers to forego buying consent for processing delicate non-public information in two situations; one, when consent should not be relevant, or two, when the employee should make a disproportionate effort to accumulate the consent from the employee. Further {{qualifications}} have been provided in the case of the wants for which employers can purchase non-public data with out consent, which might include attendance, assessing effectivity, recruitment, termination, and provision of any service or revenue. This leaves a big ambition for employers to conduct surveillance, with out being subject to lots scrutiny. The Joint Parliamentary Committee (“JPC”) in its recommendations inside the Data Security Bill, 2021, stated that the supply need to be redrafted, as a result of it confers various unfettered power to the employers over their employees’ data. The JPC report emphasised that the workers ought to have an reasonably priced expectation of their data being collected and processed, and solely in such circumstances would surveillance by the employer be acceptable. Nonetheless, assorted analysis reveal that staff’ data is captured and processed, normally to their willpower, with out giving them uncover and with out their consent.

In opposition to this backdrop, it is vitally vital take note of protection and regulatory formulations adopted to take care of workplace surveillance and staff’ privateness in numerous jurisdictions. One noteworthy occasion is the European Union’s Primary Data Security Regulation (“the GDPR”).

Whereas Article 9(1) of the GDPR prohibits the processing of personal data, employers can nonetheless legally purchase and course of the private data of employees if the requirements laid down beneath Article 9(2) are met. Employers can justify processing non-public data for ending up obligations and exercising explicit rights in employment (Paintings. 9(2)(b)) or inside the public curiosity (Paintings. 9(2)(i)). In addition to, the processing of such data ought to moreover conform to the principles set out in Article 5, along with perform limitations along with lawfulness, fairness, and transparency. Extra, a three-pronged examine laid down in Article 6(1) need to be glad when the employer claims to course of knowledge because it’s in his ‘respectable curiosity’ – that of perform, necessity, and balancing. Extra, it is vitally vital remember that the GDPR stresses the precise consent of the employee in case of data processing.

If such a rights-based framework which provides due regard to factors paying homage to educated consent, necessity and proportionality, and balancing of respectable pursuits of every employers and employees is adopted in India as successfully, it is going to help make sure that monitoring and surveillance methods utilized by employers are utilized solely when a lot much less pervasive methods normally will not be on the market, only for their meant perform, the digital and privateness rights of employees are given ample security, and most importantly, the affected employees are aware of and consent to being monitored.


In newest events, now we have now witnessed an evolution in the way in which by which we work. Organizations have shifted to distant work at an unprecedented tempo, which has moreover expanded workplace surveillance. Employers are adopting novel utilized sciences to observe their employees’ habits, think about their effectivity and make sure that their productiveness ranges keep extreme once they’re ‘on the clock. Nonetheless, constantly, such methods of surveillance are pervasive, and sometimes override fundamental guidelines of educated consent and privateness of the workers. Whereas these strategies are used to deal with quick productiveness and effectivity, and should extra signal a perception deficit and an absence of transparency. These measures might trigger tensions inside the employer-employee relationship, with diminished productiveness as an remaining end in the long run, and employees might devise strategies to recreation the system and evade surveillance.

Due to the pandemic, there was a shift inside the financial system and the labor market. Whereas in positive sectors and circumstances, staff can leverage their requires and have entry to alternate job options, it is not the case with regards to jobs the place employees are subject to surveillance. Employees couldn’t have the power to withhold consent with regards to being monitored. The problem is acute, notably for marginalized groups, low-income earners, and professions marked with low social mobility. The soundness of power appears to be titled in favor of the employer, even when seen from the angle of distant work.

The extent of security afforded to employees’ data beneath the present legislative framework in India appears largely inadequate. Whereas employers can have entry to employees’ data for respectable causes, these need to be accurately justified and the gathering and processing of data shouldn’t be on the worth of the privateness rights of the latter. If the power inside the palms of employers and organizations is left unchecked, the power imbalance between employers and employees is simply extra prone to develop.

[1] Tomczak DL and Behrend TS, ‘Digital Surveillance and Privateness’ in Richard N Landers (ed), The Cambridge Handbook of Experience and Employee Habits (Cambridge School Press 2019)

(Vrinda and Namrata are laws undergraduates at Nationwide Laws School Jodhpur. The author(s) is also contacted by mail at [email protected] and/ or [email protected])

Cite as: Vrinda Nargas and Namrata Jeph, ‘A Watchful Eye at Work: Evolving Workplaces and Rising Employee Privateness Points (Half-2)’ (The RMLNLU Laws Consider Weblog26 June 2022) date of entry