Employers spy on over at least half a million homeworkers: survey
Some 13% of all people working from home are being constantly monitored by their employers, a survey by union CNV among 1,200 homeworkers shows.
‘Over half a million people working from home are constantly being spied on by their employer. The figure is probably higher because not everyone is familiar with the company software,’ CNV chairman Piet Fortuin said.
Monitoring takes place across the board, from government departments to business services and industry, the survey showed.
‘People are being called at various times of the day to check whether they are working. In other cases software is used to measure the number of keystrokes or to see whether they are logged in. It’s pure control and that is how people experience it,’ Fortui said.
Union FNV said most complaints about control come from call centre workers. ‘We are seeing an increase in the sale of monitoring software so the same could be happening in other sectors. We also get complaints about employers who don’t trust their staff to work from home and tell them to come to the office,’ an FNV spokesman told broadcaster NOS.’
However, companies who monitor their workers may be in breach of the law, Fortuin said. ‘Monitoring is only permitted in exceptional cases, for instance when there is a suspicion of fraud. It’s unnecessary and ineffective as well because many people are more efficient and productive at home that at the office. Monitoring is more likely to be counterproductive.’
Privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens (AP) said it has not received many complaints but that this may be because people ‘don’t realise this is going pretty far,’ a spokesman said.
‘The way we are working has changed but the criteria for employers haven’t. The employer cannot suddenly spring a new set of demands on a worker because the location has changed. At home or at the office, everyone is entitled to their autonomy and a safe workplace.’
Instead of investing is spyware it would be better to invest in improving homeworkers’ mental health, Fortuin said, because 60% said they are feeling lonelier than in 2020 while 21% are close to a burn-out.
The government has contributed €5m to an emergency fund to train HR staff to cope with the mental problems that are arising around homeworking. However, the CNV also said homeworkers’ worsening eyesight is becoming an issue.
Four in ten are experiencing problems because of long hours in front of a computer screen. ‘That is much too high. Homeworkers have been staring at a screen for a year. They must go out, especially now that spring is here,’ Fortuin said.
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