Workplace Privacy

Long-held assumptions about privacy have been challenged recently by the rapid advance of surveillance and monitoring technologies that can affect everybody in their working and public lives. Employers with access to technology can have unpreciedented access to employees' activities during work hours, and the law has not kept pace with the changes. In March 2002, the Commission was asked to examine two major issues of public concern in relation to privacy: workplace privacy and privacy in public places. 

In the first stage, the Commission was asked to address gaps in privacy protection for Victorian workers, in particular, surveillance by video, audio or tracking devices, e-mail and internet monitoring, physical and psychological testing, searching workers and their belongings, and the handling of personal information. The Commission was also asked how new technologies affect worker's rights to privacy. 

The Commission published several papers to encourage community response: an issues paper in October 2002, an occasional paper in 2002 and an options paper in 2004. Extensive consultation throughout the review was augmented by expert roundtables. The Commission received more than 60 public submissions.

The final report, tabled in Parliament on 5 October 2005, included 65 recommendations for a regulatory model that would open up privacy-invasive practices to scrutiny and ensure both employers and workers knew where they stood. 

The second part of this project, Surveillance in Public Places, was finalised in June 2010 with a separate report.   


In 2006 the Victorian Parliament passed the Surveillance Devices (Workplace Privacy) Act 2006 (Vic), adopting the Commission’s recommendation to prohibit the recording or monitoring of employees in toilets, change rooms, lactation rooms or wash rooms.  




Current: Table in parliament

Full timeline:

Final report
Tabled in parliament
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Project Publications

Workplace Privacy: Final Report

March 2002–October 2005 The first stage of a two-part privacy project, the Workplace Privacy team was asked to fill the gaps in privacy protection...

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Workplace Privacy - Recommendations

Chapter 3 1.       The legislation should provide that an employer must not engage in acts or practices that unreasonably breach the privacy of...

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Workplace Privacy - Terms of Reference

In light of the widespread use of surveillance and other privacy-invasive technologies in workplaces and places of public resort, and the potential...

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