Employee Privacy

Published: 09th July 2009
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Employee Privacy is a much debated issue in the current context of increasing internet usage, email at work, data security, employee thefts and electronic surveillance of work places.

Employee Privacy issues have been explicitly brought out in countries like USA where invasion of privacy is considered to be a major infringement of individual rights. There is considerable degree of explicitness that is guaranteed by the law in the context like US for the employee to contest invasion of privacy (For example: Electronic communication privacy act). However in a country like India where we consider data security as paramount and when there is a growing concern about loss of data security, more focus is brought on increasing employee surveillance thus hampering employee privacy further.

Human resource management and privacy:

Extending the dictionary definition of privacy, employee privacy can be defined as the -Freedom for employees from unauthorized intrusion from employers"or in the US context it is widely understood as - the general right of the individual to be let alone" (Bennett and Locke, 1998). However it is intriguing and would be difficult to segregate what level of information can be sought or demanded that is needed for the organizational business purposes and how far it can be done. The various human resource management practices like recruitment, performance appraisal, employee discipline management and adherence to code of conduct, exit interviews and business operation processes like data security and performance monitoring are potential areas where employee vulnerability can be misused. May be many of the issues would be highly contextual.

An interesting example in the Indian context is linked to the queries that employers generally face regarding the authenticity of employee's records for marriage proposals. Though such issues may be amusing in a western culture, organizations in India take different approaches to deal with such issues. For example when a similar issue was posed in front of a group of HR managers, few suggested that -facts regarding an employee can be shared", -it is beneficial for the employee too", and few remarked that - our organization has strict policy regarding non disclosure of employee records". It would be interesting to understand what would be the level of general agreement amongst various organizations.

By Priti Shah

Laurent & Benon Management Consultants Ltd, a public limited company with its corporate office Gurgaon with Pan-India presence. We as an organization strive to offer the right Human Resource Solutions at the right time and enable our clients to enhance the net worth of their human resource capital.

For further Information please Visit us at: http://www.laurentandbenon.co.in/

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