Very interesting, an employee in the Netherlands was repeatedly told by his employer to turn on his camera, so he could be watched 9 hours a day. He refused, claiming he didn’t feel comfortable being watched, and, anyway, they were already monitoring his screen.
He received repeated emails from his employer telling him to turn on the camera. He refused, claiming it was an invasion of privacy.
Eventually he received an email terminating his employment, with the grounds being “refusal to work”.
He took the US employer to court for wrongful dismissal and the court found for him,
The Court of Zeeland West-Brabant determined [PDF] that not only was there no evidence of refusal to work, but instructing an employee to leave their camera on all day was a privacy violation.
“Camera surveillance for nine hours a day is disproportionate and not allowed in the Netherlands,” declared the court, which decided there was no question that the employee was working as software installed on his computer monitored his output.
As to the position of the employer, that filming him for 9 hours a day was no different to being in a real office, the court pointed out that being in a real office, you are not filmed and with the webcam, the feed can be saved.
As to the argument that surveillance was no different than actual physical presence, the court established one important difference in the two scenarios: the processing and potential storage of data, which would be subject to the General Data Protection Regulation Implementation Act (GDPR).
Chetu was ordered to pay restitution of $48,660 – $2,600 in unpaid salary, $8,150 for wrongful termination, $9,245 in worker transition assistance, the equivalent of 23 days vacation pay, eight percent statutory holiday allowance, court fees, and late payment fees.
The monitoring of PCs is in EU generally not allowed, and certainly it is illegal to monitor the PC without the users permission - antivirus software & similar security software being the exception, as it is keeping the PC safe, not monitoring what the user is doing.
Likewise CCTV in the work environment can only take place with the employee’s permission, with some exceptions for high risk areas or for food hygiene purposes - some slaughter houses monitor the production lines for safety and hygiene reasons, for example, so that if a carcass falls from the conveyor, it isn’t hung back up, but disposed of properly. And it certainly can’t be used in private areas or areas open to the general public.
Interestingly, the company closed its Dutch business within a few days of firing the employee.