CCTV: the final say in workplace disputes?

1 April 2019 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

With the right security measures in place, ensuring the safety of a company’s employees and equipment is much easier. Whether it is biometrics on all entrances and exits of an office park, fences to physically prevent intruders from gaining access, or CCTV cameras intended to catch criminals in the act, technology makes security simpler.

However, the benefits of CCTV don’t just end with security. In addition to fulfilling a crime deterrent function, CCTV surveillance can also be useful in workplace dispute resolution, having the final say in any argument. With over 16.1 million individuals employed in South Africa alone, surveillance in the workplace is a critical tool in keeping staff safe at work and avoiding unwarranted employee disputes.

Deterring crime from the inside

Where there are incidents of conduct that violate the workplace code - theft, tardiness, abuse of office resources, drugs or alcohol – having surveillance footage to clear up what did or did not happen is incredibly beneficial and can prevent costly legal disputes. Having surveillance footage records makes it possible to go back to a certain date and time, and visually ascertain what took place. If, for example, someone’s sandwich got stolen out of the work fridge and there’s a camera in the kitchen, it would be possible to identify the thief without a doubt. In addition, employees are much more likely to be productive and well-behaved if they know someone is watching.

The right eyes for every job

In order to keep watch over business premises inside and out, the right visual surveillance set-up is necessary, with the correct combination of surveillance cameras, combined with a video management system for storage, playback, off-site monitoring and event management. It is advisable to match the camera to the job required, which means that entrances and exits would be monitored by ultra-high definition cameras.

These cameras are also known as 4K cameras because they provide four times the resolution of standard HD cameras, which makes it possible to zoom in on the picture to the extent that it can be used to visually verify identity. These cameras are also useful in public reception areas and open workspaces, as their range results in fewer cameras required to cover a larger area than is possible with regular HD cameras.

For passageways, elevators and fire escapes, conventional HD cameras might do the trick, while perimeters and parking lots benefit from the application of thermal cameras with analytics. Thermal cameras do not require lighting to present visuals, which makes them especially effective for night time or bad weather surveillance.

The employers’ right to workplace surveillance

While there will always be employees that feel workplace surveillance may be an invasion of their privacy, it’s important for business owners to remember that it is within their rights as employers. CCTV surveillance is no different to a supervisor monitoring performance by daily reports, or a company monitoring phone or Internet usage. Anything that restricts a person’s ability to do things that they’re not supposed to at work, is going to feel like an invasion of privacy, giving rise to objections.

This does not mean that employers have the right to monitor every single corner of the workplace, as the right to privacy must be respected in places like changerooms and toilets. While there’s nothing preventing employers from having hidden cameras, best practice is to make them visible along with signage to let people know they’re being watched and for them to sign consent to and acknowledgement thereof in their employment contracts.

To business owners considering installing cameras in the workplace, the advice is always the same: make certain to match the set-up to the business needs so that the systems integrator can actually design a system that fulfils those needs. Do the research, to make sure that everything performs as intended so that the business can take full advantage of the chosen system, instead of being stuck with an assortment of mismatched lemons.

For more information contact Graphic Image Technologies, +27 11 483 0333, [email protected],


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