If I wear a headset, are my conversations with co-workers subject to monitoring? Yes. The conversations you have with co-workers are subject to monitoring by your employer in the same way that your conversations with clients or customers are. If you wear a headset, you should use the same care you would if you were talking to a customer or client on the phone. Some headsets have "mute" buttons which allow you to turn off the transmitter when you are not using the telephone. Can my employer obtain a record of my phone calls? Yes. Telephone numbers dialed from phone extensions can be recorded by a device called a pen register. It allows the employer to see a list of phone numbers dialed by your extension and the length of each call. This information may be used to evaluate the amount of time spent by employees with clients. Employers often use pen registers to monitor employees with jobs in which telephones are used extensively. Frequently, employees are concerned that the information gathered from the pen register is unfairly used to evaluate their efficiency with clients without consideration of the quality of service. 3. Computer Monitoring If you have a computer terminal at your job, it may be your employer's window into your workspace. There are several types of computer monitoring. 1. Employers can use computer software that enables them to see what is on the screen or stored in the employees' computer terminals and hard disks. Employers can monitor Internet usage
such as web-surfing and electronic mail. People involved in intensive word-processing and data entry jobs may be subject to keystroke monitoring. Such systems tells the manager how many keystrokes per hour each employee is performing. It also may inform employees if they are above or below the standard number of keystrokes expected. Keystroke monitoring has been linked with health problems including stress disabilities and physical problems like carpal tunnel syndrome. 2. Another computer monitoring technique allows employers to keep track of the amount of time an employee spends away from the computer or idle time at the terminal. Is my employer allowed to see what is on my terminal while I am working? Generally, yes. Since the employer owns the computer network and the terminals, he or she is free to use them to monitor employees.Employees are given some protection from computer and other forms of electronic monitoring under certain circumstances. Union contracts, for example, may limit the employer's right to monitor. Also, public sector employees may have some minimal rights under the United States Constitution, in particular the Fourth Amendment which safeguards against unreasonable search and seizure. There may be some additional rights for employees in California given specific statutes of that state.
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