SHANE Rattenbury says new legislation was unanimously supported in the ACT Legislative Assembly today that will help detect and prevent unlawful behaviour such as fraud and corruption in the workplace.
“While most employees conduct themselves appropriately in relation to their work and workplace, it is important that we have measures in place that allow an employer to appropriately investigate circumstances of unlawful activity,” Shane said.
“There are instances where an employee’s unlawful behaviour, in relation to their work, may extend beyond the workplace. An employee could be using work resources for non-work related purposes, might pocket profits from the sale of work goods, or an employer may need to defend a damages claim.
“Where there are reasonable grounds to believe an employee is engaged in unlawful activity directly related to their work, the legislation will allow a Magistrate to authorise limited surveillance of an employee outside of the workplace. This can already occur inside the workplace in limited circumstances, and with safeguards.
“The safeguards in the legislation are very strict and ensure the right to privacy is respected appropriately.
“The Magistrate is required to consider several factors such as whether there are more appropriate ways to find out if the worker is engaged in unlawful activity, and whether it is more appropriate for the unlawful activity to be investigated by a law enforcement agency.
“The Magistrate must appoint a suitably qualified ‘surveillance supervisor’, independent of the employer, to manage the surveillance. They must not share surveillance records, and can only give the employer the surveillance material directly related to the unlawful behaviour. They must also erase and destroy all other irrelevant material.
“A surveillance authority from the Magistrate also limits when, where and how surveillance may occur so that it is restricted to the specific relevant behaviour. Surveillance is only allowed in public areas.
“Significant penalties apply in respect of covert surveillance that fails to meet the outlined conditions.
“Not only will the change refine employer surveillance abilities to be appropriate and suitably oversighted; it will correct a loophole whereby the ACT Insurance Authority could not conduct surveillance on people, in relation to public liability claims, if that person happened to be an ACT Government employee.
“Today’s changes stem from a review of the Workplace Privacy Act 2011, and I thank stakeholders for their contributions to that review,” said Mr Rattenbury.