A court has ruled that asking employees to constantly keep their webcams on while working remotely, could constitute a human rights violation.
The ruling which happened in the Netherlands comes after an American software company, Chetu, fired a Dutch employee working remotely for refusing to keep his webcam on for ‘8 hours per day’.
According to reports from the Netherlands, the employee took the company to court in his home country for unfair dismissal and now the court ruled in his favour saying that ‘tracking via camera for 8 hours per day is disproportionate and not permitted in the Netherlands’.
The Florida-based company now has to pay back the employee’s wages and unused vacation days on top of a €50,000 (£44,039) fine and the employee’s court bills, among other costs.
The Dutch employee said he was uncomfortable and felt it was an invasion of his privacy by the company to monitor him at all times via his webcam during a virtual training program.
The monitoring also required the employee to share his laptop screen. When he refused, the company fired him for ‘insubordination’ and ‘refusal to work’.
In its verdict, the court referenced the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms: ‘Video surveillance of an employee in the workplace, be it covert or not, must be considered as a considerable intrusion into the employee’s private life,’
Workplace surveillance technology gained traction during the pandemic as employers shifted to more remote forms of work.
The surveillance can include monitoring of emails and files, webcams on work computers, tracking of when and how much a worker is typing, calls made and movements made by workers.
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