Call centre workers in Norway are protesting against a hi-tech surveillance system that triggers an alarm if they spend more than eight minutes per day in the lavatory. Managers are alerted by flashing lights if an employee is away from their desk for a loo break or other “personal activities” beyond the allotted time.
But unions and workplace inspectors have branded the practice at insurance company DNB as “highly intrusive” and a potential breach of their human rights.
Norway’s privacy regulator called Datatilsynet has now written to DNB telling them the monitoring system is “a major violation of privacy”. It said: “Each individual worker has different needs and these kinds of strict controls deprive the employees of all freedoms over the course of their working day.”
The employees union Finansforbundet described the rules as unacceptable…
A spokesman added: “Surveying staff to limit lavatory visits, cigarette breaks, personal phone calls and other personal needs to a total of eight minutes per day is highly restrictive and intrusive and must be stopped.”
The firm said the aim of the checks was not to measure the breaks taken by individual workers but to assess staffing needs to ensure all calls from customers were answered and it would now be reviewing the policy. Hogwash!
Last year the country’s workplace ombudsman said one firm was reported for making women workers wear a red bracelet when they were having their period to justify more frequent trips to the loo.
Another company made staff sign a lavatory “visitors book” while a third issued employees with an electronic key card to gain access to the lavatories so they could monitor breaks.
Norway’s chief workplace ombudsman Bjorn Erik Thon said: “These are extreme cases of workplace monitoring, but they are real. Toilet codes relating to menstrual cycles are clear violations of privacy and is very insulting to the people concerned…”
Bosses who have a fascination with anything in an employee’s life – below the navel – really should be required to spend some time in therapy. Maybe get a life.
Is this a Norwegian thing? I’ve only had one supervisor in my life who seemed to have this sort of demented fixation on my life in the crapper. Harvey – are you still out there somewhere?