Is It Legal to Have Security Cameras at the Office?

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Written By Peter Martel

When the safety and security of the employees and assets are concerned, all-encompassing surveillance cannot be ignored.

Business owners and various establishments look to utilize video surveillance for protecting their employees and assets. With the advancement in technology, video surveillance in the near future will become far better and more secured to suit modern workplaces.

Well, before you start to implement video surveillance in your office, it is crucial to become aware of the codes and basic surveillance laws so that you can help and protect your working premises.

You have to be aware in detail whether you can legally install security cameras or CCTVs, where you can install them and where you cannot, where you need to take permission, and other related aspects. 

General surveillance laws

It is completely legal to have security cameras installed in an office. However, there must be a valid reason for such an implementation. Every employee demand and expect a basic level of privacy and thus, it should be kept in mind.

Unlike the installation of cameras in public places, there is no explicit law against the installation of surveillance cameras in office and factory premises.

Are Security Cameras and Surveillance Legal in a Office 2021

Law on the installation of cameras different by states in the USA. Many states have made certain prohibitions to protect the privacy and general rights of the employees. 

When installing security cameras in the working area make sure that this ideology is not harmed. The employees and clients must be made aware that they are under CCTV surveillance and that too, on a polite note.

If a company keeps hidden cameras at the working premises or install cameras at private places like break rooms, lockers, or bathrooms, then it will be deemed illegal. Such cases may carry legal ramifications.

Having said that, you have every right to protect your assets and find whether the employees are working or gossiping spoiling their jobs. You have to do this without violating the moral rights of employees and people in the neighborhood. 

Common causes for video surveillances

i. Internal theft

If a company is facing an issue with theft cases or has employee/s who are engaged in dishonest activities, then installing security cameras is feasible. In such cases, you can also look for security vault doors provided by a professional team.

Now, if you have security cameras with audio recording facilities, the laws may change depending on the state or country you live in. The laws relate to federal wiretapping and thus, it should be respected.

Also, it is legal to record audio if the target audience is aware that they are being recorded. If you have recently experienced a theft case, you can certainly install security cameras in the workplace.

ii. Employee accountability

Sometimes security cameras are installed to keep eye on the production line and how things are manipulated (based on the business type).

Installing security cameras is completely legal if your employees are engaged in unlawful acts like usage of illicit drugs, alcoholic drinks, or reckless behavior.

Here, you can install normal devices used in the workplaces or the best would be to consult with the experts who can provide and install the best CCTV cameras based on your office design and types of works done. 

iii. External theft

If you have a doubtful employee in the team with very minimum criminal records in the past or have customers with stealing records, in such cases, to protect your premises, you certainly have the right to install security cameras.

You can install the cameras at the main entrance and exit ways to check on the activities. Video surveillance can be the best tool for preventing external theft cases. 

Know the law of your country

Are Security Cameras and Surveillance Legal in a Office 2021Being a responsible business owner it is important to know the laws of your country when looking to install security cameras in your office.

Usually, the law is more or less similar in all the countries in the United States. Therefore, getting familiar with the federal laws and also the state laws is important to determine the privacy policies.

It is suggested contacting the U.S Department of Labor and Department of State labor to stay away from legal complications in the future.

Business owners must also stay prepared for probable resentments on the employees. It is the employer’s responsibility to take care of the employees and present the decision that doesn’t hurt the employees’ dedication or character. 

General laws in the United States for video surveillance

As a rule of thumb, when it comes to video surveillance in the United States, business owners are allowed to install and record video surveillance publicly as long as privacy or expectation of privacy isn’t hampered.

Places that include the logical expectation of privacy are:

  • Shower areas
  • Hotel rooms
  • Bathrooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Changing rooms
  • Locker rooms

States may vary from legal perspectives regarding installation and placement of security cameras in a commercial place. Also, privacy policies and laws of audio recording may change accordingly. It is crucial to check with relevant jurisdictions to stay on the right foot.

On a smarter note, consider consulting with the experts whom you have hired to install the cameras and audio recording devices. As they are into this profession, professional security camera installers are pretty aware of the legal concepts in your state. 

So, if the aforementioned areas are not coming under your commercial video surveillance, you are clear to install and monitor the business property. In the United States, it is also not legitimate to record audio and video for blackmailing or other malicious intent.

Determining the laws of audio and video

Are Security Cameras and Video Surveillance Legal in a Office 2021As per the law in the United States, audio and video are seen differently. In some states, recording video with the help of a hidden camera inside your business or property is legal even without the consent of those under surveillance.

However, recording their voice is prohibited in the form of an illegal act. It is restricted by the Federal Wiretap Act. This law imposes criminal and civil liabilities if you are intentionally recording any communication.

Introducing an exception to this law by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act in 1986, job-oriented communications can be recorded for employers and not employees. Each state may differ when it comes to audio recording and thus, for further information, it is recommended to consult with knowledgeable and certified security camera installers.

Business laws for security cameras

Businesses have the right to protect their assets and working personnel. Therefore, the owners must install high-end security cameras for monitoring the workplace.

It depends on the images that are being captured which tell the tale story of a legal or illegal perspective. 

Privacy laws for the workplace

In areas where there are minimum expectations of privacy, audio, and video surveillance those areas without proper notice are treated as an illegal act.

These areas include elevators, staircases, corridors, and others. Even if employers provide proper surveillance notice in privacy protected areas, they don’t have the right to misuse the captured data. The best consideration is to take legal advice from an employment attorney. 

Surveillance in a legitimate business

Employers must have a valid reason with a legitimate business when it comes to monitoring employees through security cameras in the workplace. Privacy laws in the state can help you determine specific limitations and permissions.

If your business has areas like public transaction points or retail store areas, installing security cameras is completely legal, after all, it will help in preventing theft cases, monitor the workplace round-the-clock, finds trespassers, and find any types of unauthorized activities. 

Locations

Are Security Cameras and Surveillance Legal in a Office 2021As a general rule, after having all the necessary permissions, the locations of installation play a pivotal role in the security of your business.

The coverage area has a lot to do with when considering the safety of the property and your employees. Think about potentially vulnerable places.

Based on the location you are clear to use different types of cameras. The cameras that are installed outside in the corridor will not be the same for enclosed rooms or inside the workplace.

To understand the difference between indoor and outdoor cameras, it is wise to consult with professional security camera providers and installers.

Nowadays, both traditional and AI-embedded video cameras can be used for surveillance. However, the new-age cameras are more active than the traditional ones. The digital data preservation system has also upgraded quite a lot. 

Taking into the next point, do not underestimate the importance of installing quality security cameras. You don’t always need high-end, extra featured security cameras for your business, but should maintain the basic guidelines or necessities to ensure complete safety among the employees.

Indoor cameras are not just made for monitoring your employees, it can be a far exceeding device for preventing theft and burglary cases. 

Installing security cameras in the workplace is not complicated if you maintain the basic rules. It is not much of a hassle, after all, you have the right to save your assets and working premises.

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