Thursday 23 January 2020

If I install CCTV at my company's premises should I keep my workers in the picture?

Caroline McEnery

Q I am thinking of installing CCTV cameras in my tech company offices. Do I need to inform my staff of my intentions, as there will be cameras overlooking their work area?

A Companies and organisations have many reasons and legitimate interests for needing to operate CCTV on company premises. For example, it can be used for security reasons, health and safety reasons and for disciplinary purposes.

It is important to remember that CCTV gathers recordings of employees and customer alike.

Recognisable images captured by CCTV systems are classified as personal data. Therefore this data is covered by the Data Protection Acts which will be enhanced come 25 May 2018 with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Prior to installing any CCTV systems, you must ensure that it has been carefully considered.


You must first consider and identify why you feel as a company it is necessary to put in place a CCTV system. You must be able to justify why CCTV is necessary and you must ensure that the data collected by installing CCTV is accurate, relevant and not excessive.

Installing CCTV for security purposes is one of the most common uses. The intention for this purpose would be to catch the image of potential trespassers and so in this regard it is likely that this purpose would meet the criteria for proportionality.

However, if you have installed CCTV for the monitoring of staff, it is highly unlikely that this would meet the criteria of proportionality as this would be an extremely intrusive practice in breach of your employees' right to privacy.

In relation to employee's privacy and the workplace, the location of the cameras must be carefully considered.

For example, the Data Protection Commissioner has outlined that is it not reasonable to place cameras in staff canteens or in staff restrooms. Although the commissioner accepts that organisations have a legitimate interest to protect their business, she does not accept the use of CCTV to monitor staff.

A genuine purpose of CCTV in the workplace would be to ensure the health and safety of all staff and to potentially protect the company against any false claims or serious disciplinary matters.

In this case, you as the employer must be able to show that the installation of the CCTV system is proportionate in addressing and protecting the company against these issues.

The Data Protection Commissioner recommends that detailed assessments must be carried out prior to the installation of CCTV.

Consultation with Employees

It is important to note that if there are CCTV cameras in operation on company premises, you must ensure that all staff and visitors are aware they are there by using clear signage outlining the use and the purpose. If you do not have CCTV in place but plan on doing so, you must ensure to consult with all staff members within your company.

Written CCTV Policy

If there is or will be CCTV in operation on company premises you must ensure that all staff have signed off on a CCTV Policy and that they are fully aware of why they are in operation. An acceptable usage policy should be adopted, reflecting the balance between the use of CCTV cameras and the privacy rights of your employees. Employees should be notified of the nature, extent and purposes of the monitoring specified in the policy.

A good CCTV policy includes the following: identity of the data controller; all purposes for its use; details of who has access to the data within the company and security policy; details of any third parties who may get access to the data; information on data subject rights such as data subjects access requests; retention period; disposal policy.

Caroline McEnery, managing director of The HR Suite, is a member of the Low Pay Commission and is an adjudicator in the Work Place Relations Commission. She is also author of The Art of Asking the Right Questions

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