Guide to Employee Monitoring Laws of the U.S.

On 12 Jun., 2021

About the Rules Of Employee Monitoring In the US

Guide to Employee Monitoring Laws of the U.S.

In the United States of America, employee monitoring is a perfectly legal activity. Nearly all federal and state laws allow employers to monitor their own devices (used by employees), especially when there is a business purpose.

Employers can monitor their employees' attendance, productive time, internet activity, screen content, keystrokes, emails, communication, etc. That said, there are laws that govern the extent to which employee monitoring software can be used in a work environment.

1. Is it legal to monitor employees in the United States?

Yes, in the United States of America, it is legal and encouraged for employers to significantly monitor, to some degree, the activities of employees on workplace devices. But this monitoring must be validated by logical business reasons on the part of organizations.

Some states, however, require employee consent before monitoring can occur. But, as far as federal laws are concerned, employers have no restrictions/obligation to disclose employee monitoring.

2. Is monitoring of employees' internet and social media activities legal?

Yes, in most cases, employers have the right to ensure that employees use the internet in the workplace only for work-related tasks. U.S. law allows employers to track their employees' Internet activities, such as websites visited, URLs opened, time spent on all sites, and even restrict access to certain sites.


In some U.S. states, employers are allowed to conduct background checks on employees before hiring them. As part of this, they can even request identifying information on social media as a completely legal formality.

3. Is it legal to monitor screenshots and keyboard usage?

It is perfectly legal for employers to monitor screenshots and keyboard usage in the United States. In other words, in the United States, it is perfectly legal to monitor every single activity of an employee during work hours. It is also legal to add it and announce it to employees.

4. Is it legal for employers to monitor email content?

Yes, under U.S. law, any email sent or received by an employee on a company computer can be monitored. Since they are received on company devices, they can be monitored and accessed at any time and in any way.

While in some states consent is required, most are defined as legal by federal law. For example, in California, third-party consent is required to access email. 

Read - Productivity Tracking Software: What, Why, and How?

5. Is monitoring and recording phone conversations legal too?

Yes, but only on company-owned devices because they are company property and can only be used for official purposes. The Fourth Amendment addition to the Electronic Communication Privacy Act (ECPA) of 1986, however, states that it is illegal to intercept any type of communication, wire, oral or electronic. But there are some exceptions, including

The business exception, where employers are allowed to monitor calls only if they have legitimate reasons to support their case. 

The prior consent exception, set forth by the federal government, states that telephone recording is permitted if only one party agrees and gives consent. Although this law has its own amendments in each state. 


6. Is video surveillance of systems also legal in the United States?

Yes, U.S. federal laws allow you to use video surveillance of systems in the office as long as it is done specifically and solely for business purposes. However, some states such as California and New York still have restrictions on the use of video surveillance systems in locker rooms, restrooms, and certain areas that do not need to be monitored.

The video recording must not include audio, in accordance with federal wiretap laws.

7. Does monitoring of employees' personal devices also fall under the legislation?

In some cases, yes. If an organization has a policy of bringing its own devices to employees, it can track their activities. Also, this tracking is strictly for work-related tasks. 


 8. Do organizations have to inform employees about their monitoring?

Prior information to employees about their monitoring is only required in two states in the United States. This is because U.S. state laws vary in some states such as Connecticut Gen. Stat.§ 31-48d and Delaware Del. 6 Code § 19-7-705 and therefore require advance notice of surveillance.

WorkStatus Makes Tracking Easier 

In order to strictly adhere to the laws set forth by the United States, WorkStatus ensures that its time tracking and monitoring software is equipped with all necessary features. However, it allows each feature to be customized to apply or restrict the functionality of the features.

Each of WorkStatus' features, such as time-tracking and activity tracking with screenshots, is customizable based on the number of screenshots or no screenshots at all. Check it out, if you want a law-abiding time tracking and monitoring software.

It's convenient, simple, and hassle-free. 

Source: Guide to Employee Monitoring Laws of the U.S.