Cameras and video surveillance can be used as an effective tool to prevent crime or misconduct in the workplace. It can also be used to prove misconduct that happened in the workplace. There are however some requirements that employers need to adhere to in order to ensure that the use of cameras and video surveillance holds up in court.
The following must be in place:
- There has to be a legitimate reason to film;
- The areas under surveillance have to be public areas;
- The employees have to be aware of the fact that filming will take place.
Every employer is entitled to protect its property and can install security cameras in the workplace. We strongly advise employers to use labour legislation to their advantage. When drafting employment contracts proactive clauses that require the employee’s permission must be included. This clauses will include the installation of security cameras and searching of employees as well as their belongings.
Must the employees be informed of the cameras and video surveillance?
The question often asked is whether employees must be given notice of the security cameras or whether the security cameras can be installed without the employees’ knowledge. The answer to the question generally depends on where the security cameras are installed. That means installing a security camera in a general office area is totally acceptable. Placing a camera in a bathroom, on the other hand, will be seen as a breach in employee privacy.
When will video surveillance be accepted?
Numerous court rulings have confirmed that video evidence will be accepted under the following circumstances:
- The video footage must be clear;
- The footage must be authenticated and evidence should be lead as to the authenticity of the footage and that it could not have been tampered with;
- The footage must reflect the incident in question and not some other incident;
- The evidence provided by the video footage must not be hearsay and must not be contradicted by other evidence;
- The video footage should not be part of an illegal entrapment exercise.
Video surveillance can be extremely useful to employers as means of catching perpetrators. However this advantage will only apply where the employer knows how to ensure that all the requirements for validating the video evidence are adhered to.