90% of Australian employers digitally track staff

Report finds monitoring software used on staff devices, including movement of mouse and snapshot pictures.

90% of Australian employers digitally track staff
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Nine out of ten Australian employers are digitally tracking their staff, according to a report by law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.

The report said 90 per cent of firms were using software on staff issued phones and computers to monitor the activities of their employees.

Professor Peter Holland of Swinburne University said surveillance of staff was “fairly endemic in the workplace now”.

“They put this stuff on your computer and you don't actually realise,” he said.

“Either they're monitoring the movement of your mouse or they're taking snapshot pictures of you on the computers to see if you're actually at the site and doing your work.”

The report was released as the Commonwealth Bank admitted it uses an app called ‘Navigate’ to track staff activity online and to monitor how often employees are sitting in front of their computers.

Professor Holland said the huge number of Australians working from home during the pandemic had corresponded with a rapid increase in companies using technology for employee surveillance.

He said the surveillance of typing, mouse movements and location tracking was marketed as a measure of productivity and efficiency.

“Do (companies) really need to do this?” he said.

The Finance Sector Union (FSU) is asking similar questions of the CBA’s use of the Navigate app.

Union national secretary Julia Angrisano said workers were “concerned about reports that they are under surveillance and being spied on by the bank through a system said to measure their computer activity”.

“It is unacceptable for an employer to set up a system to track an employees' work activity without their knowledge and agreement.”

Navigate is described as 'the workplace application for CBA Group employees”, though not all of its workers use it.

A CBA spokesman told The Australian this week that the information collected was used to support staff.

“This has been especially helpful throughout and post-Covid as people have returned to the office, allowing us to better manage space in our corporate offices,” he said.

According to the Daily Mail, the CBA was also reportedly using office attendance and computer use data to question absenteeism, early knock offs and long lunches

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  • By Avi Yemini

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