- What ethical issues are involved in workplace privacy concerns?
The issue of workplace privacy have been controversial over the past years with more technologies available to monitor the privacy of the employees such as telephones, voice mails, video cameras and internet. The issues on privacy have been stimulated by the utilisation of various electronic monitoring devices. There are a number of ethical issues regarding privacy associated with the use of information technology in the work place. According to (2007) the following are ethical issues and concerns on the workplace:
- Information technology such as computers and internet makes it easier to collect, keep, incorporate, switch and obtain information and data of the company and workers quickly in a more technical and economical manner. The advantage of information technology is it increases the efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace; however it has a negative effect on the employee’s right to privacy because information of an individual such as his or her address, email, mobile number and social security number can be easily identified.
- Most of the work places are now wired to the internet. Most companies even conduct their business through the internet. Users of the internet are more probe to violations of privacy, in the case of the workplace, online messaging can be viewed by third parties thus enabling another person to read private conversations without consent. In addition, cookies in the internet obtain information about an individual and that data could be determined by managers or some other people in the workplace that is highly skilled in the computer and the internet.
- In order to restrict access to private information the government enacted privacy laws that enforces the privacy of files and communications that is based on the computer. Acts such as electronic communications privacy act and the computer fraud act are some of the ways to curb access of private information whether in the work place or not. However there are some individuals that opposed to the idea of strict measures on privacy. They believe that every individual must have the freedom of information, speech and press and by having acts and laws against those freedoms they are preventing the people from exercising their right to express and publish opinions.
- What promotes the differing views managers and employees have on privacy issues?
Employers and the employees have different views regarding privacy in the work place. According to (2001) most employers believe that their employees should only have little privacy because employers want to ensure that the workers are loyal, capable, productive, and abide to the laws in the workplace. In addition, employers want to decrease the expenditures, increase productivity, prevent the workers from abusing the systems of the company, and keep the workers from doing illegal or immoral things. In addition, unethical behaviours of employees such as theft and disclosure of confidential information is becoming a huge problem in most of the organisations therefore increased monitoring on the employees are done in order to avoid it in the expense of individual privacy of the employees (, 1993).
On the other hand, the employees want employers to respect their privacy and they want to have stricter rules regarding it because workers are concerned on the leakage of data that contains sensitive and personal information. Most employees know that their employers have all the right to monitor their activities in the work place; however they believe that it must be limited.
- What should a company have access regarding an employees personal life and what is not reasonable?
According to (2007) personal employee information is a data regarding an individual that is an employee or prospective employee that is needed by the employer for the purpose of managing the relationship between the company and the employee. The employer can access the following information of the employees; the contact information, birth date, taxation details, salary, working hours, vacation dates, conditions of employment, resumes, performance assessments, and work history. Personal information such as extracurricular activities, hobbies, and personal life are not accessed by the employers.
- What do you anticipate happening in the future regarding workplace privacy?
With the rapid changes in technology the future of workplace privacy will relies on it. The advances in technology make it easier to organise and obtain personal information of an employee. According to (2000) the current and future employees must be aware that when it comes to computers in the workplace there is no such thing as privacy. For employers these advances in the technology are beneficial for both the company and its employees because workers that abuse the computer could be easily identified. Through monitoring the employees the employers could identify the workers that are productive and vice versa. Moreover, the management will be stricter in terms of access of information in the future, more complex systems will be utilised in order to avoid hackers from getting inside the company’s computer system to obtain private information.
The current and future employees must be responsible enough to keep their personal information private as much as possible and not post it on the internet since violations and abuse is very rampant. In addition, they must be responsible enough to utilise their time in the work place to be productive because there is a huge possibility that the employer will find out that the tasks is not managed efficiently by the employees. Also in the future, more acts and laws will be passed by the government in order to ensure safety to the users of these technologies.
- Do the laws adequately address the issues involved in workplace privacy?
According To and (1998) the laws are not adequate enough to address the issues in workplace privacy. The Privacy for Consumers and Workers Act only states the following:
- Employers are not allowed to monitor employees that have more than five years of work experience.
- The employees that worked between 60 days up to five years could be checked and monitored by the employers at a random order and must be notified at least 1 day ahead of the time of monitoring.
- The employees that have less than 60 days of work experience are not covered by the legislation.
- The data obtained cannot be used as a singular basis for evaluating the performance of the employees.
- Employers that violated the act will pay $10,000.
The act is not adequate for both the employees and the employers; it is unfair for the workers that have less than five years of experience to be the only ones monitored. Moreover, the lack of legislation makes it easier for employers to conduct monitoring without restrictions, regulations and guidelines. Also, it is not fair for employers because it does not state punishment to workers that are abusing privacy such as reading or listening to conversations of colleagues.
- How can the use of ethical theories (utilitarian, categorical imperative, rights, and justice) resolve workplace privacy issues before they become legal issues?
According to (2007) ethical theories are focuses various points in order to reach a decision that is ethically correct. In the case of privacy in the workplace due to lack of legislation using theories could somehow resolve some issues regarding the workplace privacy. Like in the case of utilitarianism and rights, utilitarianism, according to (1998) the theory is based on the ability to determine the consequences of an action, and the choice that will benefit the majority of the people is the ethically correct choice. If the policies of the company regarding privacy will benefit more employees then it will be the right choice. Rights, on the other hand is the ethical theory that is created by the society and protected. In work place, all employees have the right to privacy regarding personal information not related to work and if it is violated by the employer then most likely he or she will face the consequences.
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