I’m hoping you can help me with something. I’ve been in HR for a long time but have never come across a situation like our owners are currently doing.
They have two calendars out in the open (one for office staff and one for our laborers). Anyone from vendors, customers, etc. can see it. They are using those calendars to mark down any time a person is late, sick, family emergency, vacation, funeral, doesn’t show up for shift, etc. I’ve had several complaints from employees that it’s a violation of their privacy, and they don’t want it displayed. I’ve never come across this before because any other company I have worked for would never do something like this. I can’t find anything that would prove it is a true violation of the employee’s privacy and illegal, other than in my eyes it’s immoral on the part of the owners of our company. I do agree with our staff that it is an invasion of privacy.
What are your thoughts?
Well, I’m probably the wrong person to come to, because while I believe in privacy, I don’t think there is much privacy involved in a calendar that shows who is in or out of the office. It’s not a big secret, and it’s helpful. “Where’s Bob? I can’t find him. Oh, let me check the calendar. Yep, he’s out on vacation today!”
Now, everyplace I’ve worked had something like this, except electronic. If you were going to be out for the day, you’d put it on the shared departmental calendar and put an out of office notice on your email. Since you mentioned you have laborers, it’s likely that not everyone has a company email account, so it makes sense to have it on paper. That way, anyone who wants to reach you knows that you’re not in the office. And there’s a record if a question comes up later: “Who screwed up this project? Well, it wasn’t Jane, because she was at a funeral on June 18.”
I guess I can’t get worked up about people knowing who is in and out of the office. Likewise, I can’t get worked out up about noting late arrival times–for the same reason.
I do find it weird that this is in a location where clients/guests can see it. It would make more sense to have it in a break room or something.
Now, if the calendar says “Bill, out due to toenail fungus,” that’s a bit much because all anyone needs to know is that Bill is out of the office. But, it does make sense to put, “Mandy, maternity leave” because you know that Mandy won’t be in tomorrow, but Bill most likely will be.
So, if people are upset about this, I suggest you start with removing the reason for the absence. Then the practical reason is fulfilled, and nobody’s privacy is violated. After all, it’s obvious that you’re not in the office if you’re, you know, not there. Then stop and think about why it bothers you so much. Ask others why, directly, they find it bothersome. There might be a reason I’m not seeing. (Heaven knows, that’s happened before and will happen again!)
As for violating a law, I can’t think of why it would. The only thing that would come close is a HIPAA violation if your company is subject to HIPAA (it’s probably not) and the reason for health-related absences are included.