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Does your organization have a well-written Privacy Policy in place?  

Why should you have one? 

Problem #1: 

Sometimes, employees bring packages to the workplace, and the Company is unaware of them or their contents.  

Example 1 of  Problem 1:  

Company ABC is a small shop that sells groceries. One day, an employee brought a box to the workplace, but no one seemed to pay attention to it. She left the premises at the end of the workday, carrying away her strange box. The security personnel asked her for a check of the package, which she denied, arguing that it violated her privacy rights. The security personnel let her go without inspection. 

When the supervisors reviewed the inventory, they realized that some expensive items were not in the showcase. One of the supervisors recalled the strange box the employee had brought, but he could not hold her accountable for the missing items because she was already gone and was not inspected to confirm. 

What caused the problem? 

Company ABC was not aware of the box’s content. Company ABC’s policies did not allow the security personnel to review the box at the right time. 

Solution:  

The Company can implement a privacy policy to address the situation; within the policy, the following elements can be considered: 

  • What the Company is allowed to do: Company ABC is permitted to execute routine checks.  
  • When the procedure can be performed: The checks can be performed periodically. 
  • Notification or consent: The checks do not require notice in advance to employees leaving the Company’s premises with packages or articles.  
  • Who is responsible for carrying out the procedure: Any department head, supervisor, or any other Company-designated individual has the authority to inspect packages or other articles in possession of any employee leaving the Company’s premises. 
  • Recommendations: If employees desire to avoid such inspections, they should refrain from bringing packages or other articles to the Company’s premises or check them with security before entering the premises.   
  • Other guidelines: Any package or container carried out of the building must be accompanied by a property removal slip from the employee’s supervisor and the Security Department. The Security Department has the authority to inspect any packages leaving the Company’s premises. 

With these clear guidelines, both employers and employees can know the procedures for routine checks and what to expect from them. 

Example 2 of Problem 1:  

An employee of the same Company brought a bag containing some expensive jewelry to work. However, she did not check it with security before entering, and the Company did not know about it. At the end of the day, the jewelry was not in her bag, and she held the Company accountable for the theft. She said she would sue the Company; the Company had to pay for some jewelry they never saw, which was allegedly stolen. 

What caused the problem? 

As in the first example, Company ABC could not defend itself because it had not discharged its liability for items allegedly stolen on the premises.  

Solution:  

Besides the approach suggested above, the Company also has to establish in its policies its responsibility or lack thereof if any object is stolen: 

  • Accountability: The Company is not responsible for lost or stolen items that are left with security or brought to the premises. 

Problem #2: 

Sometimes, employees bring prohibited items —e.g., illicit drugs or weapons— to the Company’s facilities and decide to keep and store them in lockers and desks. The Company is then exposed to the risks inherent to those items. 

Example of Problem 2:  

An employee of Company XYZ is keeping drugs in the company lockers; some of his peers have seen some strange movements, but they have not been able to determine what is happening.  Additionally, the employee uses his own lock, which prevents the Company from reviewing the locker’s content. 

What caused the problem? 

As the Company does not have a policy allowing it to inspect the lockers or desks, it could not confirm if the employee was keeping drugs on the premises. 

Solution:  

Company XYZ can implement a policy that establishes the following: 

  • What they provide to employees: The Company furnishes lockers, locks, and desks to employees. 
  • Intended use: Lockers and desks are for the convenience and use of employees at the Company’s expense. 
  • What employees are not allowed to do: Employees should not secure lockers with any lock other than those provided by the Company.  Employees cannot keep prohibited materials such as weapons, explosives, alcohol, non-prescribed drugs or medications, and additional items that cannot be stored for prolonged periods (perishable items). 
  • Ownership: Employees should remember that objects such as desks, lockers, and locks  remain the sole property of the Company.  
  • What the Company is allowed to do: The Company reserves the right to open and inspect lockers and desks, as well as any contents, effects, or articles that are placed in those. 
  • When the procedure can be carried out: The inspections can occur at any time before, during, or after working hours. 
  • Notification or consent: The procedure can be performed with or without advance notice or consent. 
  • Who is responsible for carrying out the procedure: Any supervisor, manager, or security personnel designated by the Company. 
  • Consequence: If employees fail to cooperate, they need to know they will be subject to disciplinary action, including possible suspension or discharge.   
  • Accountability: The Company is not responsible for any articles placed or left in a locker or desk if they are lost, damaged, stolen, or destroyed. 

Additionally, the Company needs to have an acknowledgment form signed by employees in which they state that they understand the policy and its procedures. Here is an example of such an acknowledgment: 

“I hereby request that the Company provide me with a locker for my convenience. I understand that the Company provides lockers and locks for the convenience and use of its employees during work. I also understand that I must not place any lock on the locker other than the lock furnished to me by the Company. Further, I understand that the locker is and shall remain the sole property of the Company and that the Company reserves the right to open and inspect the locker, as well as any contents, effects, or articles in the locker, at any time with or without advance notice or my further consent. Such an inspection may be conducted during or after my working hours by a supervisor, manager, or any security personnel designated by the Company. I understand that I must, if asked, cooperate with the Company or its designated representative in connection with any such inspection and hereby consent to such inspections.” 

I certify that I have read this agreement, understand it, and voluntarily agree to its provisions.  

__________________    

Signature and Date 

HOW CAN CALIFORNIA LABOR SOLUTIONS HELP? 

We can develop a Privacy Policy specifically for your organization, as well as any other policies you might need. A policy with a structure like the one proposed here can establish the protocol and expectations associated with employees bringing or keeping prohibited items in the workplace and taking home items that are not permitted from leaving the employer’s premises.  

Contact us today for a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

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