Find Out Whether Hidden Cameras Are Legal at Work


Security at workplaces is important and many business owners have invested in robust security systems at their business premises. These often include alarm systems, key card access systems and CCTV cameras, among other things. Video surveillance at work is legal but there are some limits such as the extent to which surveillance can be done, where the cameras can be placed, as well as requirements to give notice to your employees. In work environments such as warehouses, grocery stores and banks, it is quite common to have surveillance cameras. However, in an office setting, it is necessary for the employees to be notified of video surveillance, and the employer must have a good reason for it. Audio recordings at work are also not allowed in most jurisdictions. Therefore, even as you browse through for a spy camera to use at work, you need to be aware of the legal implications of what you are about to do.

Where can you have cameras at work?

The following are some of the areas where it is legal to have cameras at work:

  • Shared offices
  • The reception
  • Storage facilities
  • Parking lots

However, there are places where employees expect some level of privacy. Such places include break areas, changing rooms and restrooms. It is illegal to have video surveillance in such places, whether the employees are aware of it or not.

Hidden cameras

In most jurisdictions, it is illegal to have hidden cameras at work. Employees must be notified if they are being monitored. However, there are some special circumstances in which employers can be allowed to use hidden cameras. For instance, if you suspect an employee of doing something illegal or that is against your organization’s policies while at work, you might be forgiven for using a hidden camera. The tricky bit in all this is ensuring that even as you do your investigation of whatever it is you suspect, you do not invade the said individual’s privacy. If it is determined that your action was an invasion of your employee’s privacy, the evidence you gather through the use of a hidden camera might not even be admissible in court. The individual could also sue you, or you could get into trouble with the workers’ union if your employee is a member of one. On top of all this, this would not sit well with the rest of your employees, and it would create some distrust within the organization.

It is clear that this is a sensitive issue and there is no direct answer as to whether it is legal to have hidden cameras at work. Generally, you should avoid using hidden cameras unless you have good reasons to suspect employee misconduct. Otherwise, if you must have video surveillance at your business premises, ensure that you give your employees notice of it and inform them why you need to have it. This will help you avoid trouble with the authorities and workers’ unions, and it will also ensure that the work environment is comfortable for all your employees to be their true selves, without feeling like someone is watching their every move.

Disclaimer: The views of authors published on South Africa Today are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of South Africa Today. By viewing, visiting, using, or interacting with, you are agreeing to all the provisions of the Terms of Use Policy and the Privacy Policy.