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Under the employers eye: Electronic monitoring & surveillance in Australian workplaces

Part I of this report begins by describing the main forms of modern electronic monitoring and surveillance (EMS) that have placed more Australian workers œunder their employer’s eye. These methods include the use of location tracking technologies, monitoring of emails and social media content, the œgamification of work, digital methods of performance monitoring, and even electronic systems for employee discipline and dismissal. Following sections examine the various purposes of modern EMS systems, and the extent of their application. This is followed by a brief description of the legal and regulatory system governing EMS in Australia; current regulations limiting employers’ use of these systems are sparse and inconsistent. The last section of Part I discusses the direct and indirect consequences of these new forms of monitoring and surveillance for workers. It argues that the impact of omnipresent surveillance in workplaces may be contributing to the slower wage growth which has so concerned Australian economists and policy experts in recent years; because it is now easier and cheaper to monitor and œmotivate employees through surveillance and potential discipline, employers feel less pressure to provide positive economic incentives (such as job security, promotion, and higher wages) to elicit loyalty and effort from their workforces.Part II of the report then reports the findings of our original survey data regarding the forms, extent and impacts of EMS systems in Australian workplaces, and the attitudes of Australian workers towards these technologies and trends. We surveyed 1,459 people between 26 October and 6 November 2018, using an online survey methodology, conducted by Research Now. The sample was nationally representative with respect to gender, age and state and territory.