CCTV in the Workplace

Is CCTV in the workplace legal in Queensland?

It certainly is. There is no legislation in Queensland that prohibits or restricts it. Can you sack someone based on what you see on CCTV? Absolutely! If an employee is caught ‘red handed’ stealing from the till or having an intimate relationship with a subordinate in the workplace during work hours (or even non-work hours), subject to an investigation and giving the chance to respond, you may be able to dismiss that employee summarily for serious misconduct.

In the event an employee is disciplined or dismissed for events captured by CCTV, a copy of the recording should be made available to them or their lawyer as soon as possible. One case saw a casino employee terminated after actions caught on camera. The Industrial Relations Commissioner said the video clearly showed the actions of the employee, but that the investigation of the event by the business ‘lacked procedural fairness’. At no time prior to the termination was the employee given access to the recording. Employees have the right to request access to any footage used in disciplinary matters.

What are the risks with CCTV and other tracking devices?

The risks associated with setting up a CCTV system in your workplace could include:

  • An adverse action claim if you are surveilling union members because of their union membership.
  • The introduction of a CCTV System could be considered a ‘major change to the workplace’ under an Enterprise Agreement or Modern award, because it could result in the termination of employees. Therefore, if you don’t comply with the consultation requirements under that instrument you could be in breach of that section.
  • Evidence obtained from CCTV Systems, i.e. the footage of the employee stealing money from the till, may not always be accepted in court.
  • The failure to disclose that a CCTV System is in place may result in a termination being found to be harsh, unjust or unreasonable if the dismissal is only based on the evidence found from the CCTV footage and the employee has not been given procedural fairness.

So, what is the best approach to CCTV?

We recommend that employers ensure that any surveillance system that is already implemented or is going to be implemented is clearly communicated to employees and that employees understand how and when the surveillance will operate through policies, procedures and training. This includes for example how the material (i.e. footage) will be stored and for how long, who can view it and that disciplinary action may be taken against an employee caught red handed.

For further information or advice on your HR matters please contact us.