Presumption of Innocence/ Workplace Surveillance

1. Presumption of Innocence

“If you are not doing anything wrong, you don’t have anything to worry about.” This statement is commonly bandied around by people without much consideration. Whereas it may be true that one needs not worry if one is doing nothing wrong, there are cases when people do not like their privacy being intruded into. There are certain private issues or affairs that, though perfectly right, one would squirm if they were cast into public light.

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There are numerous examples of actions which are not wrong but which people would not like to subject to public scrutiny. A couple’s intimate moments – and there is nothing wrong about them – would rather remain private affairs. It goes without saying that such moments would make many people uncomfortable if they were to be brought into the limelight. Another instance is when people are withdrawing their money from ATM machines. There is nothing wrong with the act of withdrawing one’s money from cash dispensers, but one would not want it to be made public.

Though one may not need to worry if one is doing nothing wrong, this is not a guarantee that one’s privacy should be intruded into. It is, therefore, important to differentiate between public space and private space. People may not have problems when certain actions are projected into the public, but will certainly be uncomfortable when their private issues are disclosed to third parties to whichever means. Clearly, it is important to respect personal or private space.

2. Workplace Surveillance

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Companies are currently spending a lot of money of employee monitoring software. In the US, 80% of the corporations are keeping their employees under constant surveillance (Schmitz, 2004). Companies are using telephone tapping devices, video cameras and computer monitoring systems to track the activities of their employees (Schmitz, 2004). However, employers and employees are grappling with the ethical implications of employee monitoring.

One constant issue that is emerging concerns employee’s privacy at work (Mujtaba, n.d.). It is common knowledge that any form of communication addressed to an individual is that person’s preserve. Therefore, a problem arises when emails and telephone calls addressed to a specific employee, as a person and not as an employee of that particular company, is intruded into by the person’s employer. Though it is common practice in many companies, it leads to loss of trust between the employees and employers. This is because monitoring creates the impression that the employer is suspicious about employee behavior. It would be important for employers to consider the feelings of their employees before launching into their mails or telephone conversations.

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Workplace surveillance is not a good management tool. This is because it creates tension between employees and their employers. Employees will not quite be comfortable working in the company, knowing that every step they make, every email they receive, and worse still, every phone they make or receive, is being monitored. Both employers and employees need a relaxed atmosphere in order to work well. Therefore, employee monitoring is not morally justifiable. Employers have to find other ways of keeping their employees under check.

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