Concerns raised over employers using tech to monitor remote workers

According to ICTU, many employers are already making use of tools which allow them to measure keyboard and mouse usage, monitor web browsing activity and take time cards or screen shots every few minutes.
Concerns raised over employers using tech to monitor remote workers

ICTU has urged the government to come up with clear guidance so employers can monitor people's work - but not in a way that's invasive.

There are calls for the government to provide clear guidance for employers on using technology to monitor remote workers.

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has raised concerns about a "growing trend" of bosses using artificial intelligence.

The tools can track the number of mouse clicks by a worker, how many emails they send in an hour and time spent on social media.

Dr Laura Bambrick from ICTU says a lot of employees will struggle to resist the use of artificial intelligence in this way.

"There is a real power imbalance between workers and employers - especially in non-unionised work places - and that allows management to force the use of invasive monitoring technologies with little resistance," said Dr Bambrick.

"If workers want to get a job or want to keep a job, they tend to agree to things they otherwise wouldn't feel comfortable with."

She said many employers are already making use of tools which allow them to measure keyboard and mouse usage, monitor web browsing activity and take time cards or screen shots every few minutes.

As well as this, Dr Bambrick said there have been other informal practices that have been reported where workers are required to leave their laptop camera and microphone on so supervisors can spontaneously "check in".

Neil McDonnell from business group ISME said this behaviour is not new as monitoring has always taken place in one form or another in the workplace.

"Whether it was looking at email activity or task lists, self reporting and so on."

Managing Director of the HR Suite Caroline McEnery does not think excessive monitoring is the best way.

Ms McEnery believes that having set ground rules is a much better approach. For example, an employee is expected to be at their desk when they are supposed to be unless an absence - for example, doing the school run - has been pre-authorised.

The idea of monitoring laptops and cameras give a sense of being watched covertly and not being trusted, said Ms McEnery.

ICTU is worried the tools could be used to decide who gets a bonus or let go from a company.

It has urged the government to come up with clear guidance so employers can monitor people's work - but not in a way that's invasive.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.