12 most asked questions on Argentine employee monitoring laws

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Employee monitoring in Argentina is recognized and permitted for employers who wish to monitor their employees on legitimate work-related grounds. However, this must be done in a way that complies with the law.

1. Is employee monitoring legal in Argentina?

Yes. Argentine constitution and labor laws (Argentine Employment Contract Act 20,744) permit the employer to control certain employees’ activities at the workplace to achieve business objectives. That said, certain measures need to be taken to ensure that they do not interfere with employees’ dignity and privacy rights:

  • Monitoring tools are required to comply with the law.
  • Employers are only required to control the activities of employees authorized by law.
  • Employers must have detailed policies on the monitoring and use of company equipment.
  • Employers must inform employees of the existence of any systems for monitoring the workplace.

2.Is it legal to monitor company’s computers?

Yes. Argentine employment and labor laws allow the employer to monitor all activities carried out on company computers and any other electronic devices provided by the employer to ensure that devices are used for work-related purposes and not for illegal activity, information theft, or misuse. Policies must also be put in place to inform employees of acceptable and unacceptable use of work equipment.

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3. Is it legal to monitor employee internet and social media activities?

Yes. Although no specific legislation regulates the use of the Internet and social media in the Argentine workplace, the employer can monitor the employee’s computer and internet activities (what sites he/she visits on a work device and for how long).
On social media, employers are advised to be mindful of employees’ rights to privacy. Law 25,326 of the Personal Data Protection Act requires the consent of any person whose personal informations accessed. For instance, if the employer accesses an employee’s social network account without permission, it could violate their privacy rights.
Suppose there is a need to monitor employee social media activities. In that case, the employer should clearly explain the reasons behind it (by a written document) before the monitoring process.
Collected data should not be used for any purpose other than that for which the information has been provided.

4. Is it legal to monitor screen contents and keystrokes?

Yes. In Argentina, it is legal to monitor screen content and every keystroke on the employer-provided computer. A good rule of thumb is to remember that everything an employee does on their work computer can be accessed by the employer, especially if there is a clear and documented workplace policy and employees are informed at the outset.

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5. Is it legal to monitor email content?

Yes. It should be noted that all tools provided by the company should be used solely for work purposes and that the employer has the right to control the use of such devices. In that regard, the email account belongs to the company. According to the National Labor Court of Appeals, employers should regulate corporate emails, and their appropriate use should be formally communicated to employees.

6. Is it legal to monitor or record phone conversations?

This subject is still a gray area in Argentina because there are no specific laws on recording and monitoring phone conversations. Article 19 of the National Constitution of Argentina emphasizes the “right to privacy.” That being said, monitoring or recording is considered permissible if consent is given or the monitoring/recording is necessary to protect the employer’s legitimate interests. For example, recorded conversations may be used as evidence of criminal activity. The court also requires anyone wishing to intercept communications from an individual to seek a judicial order.

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7. Is it legal to use video monitoring systems in the workplace?

Yes. That said, Section 71 of the amended Argentine National Employment Act (NEL) provides restrictions on the employer’s ability to perform video surveillance in the workplace. According to the NEL, an employer wishing to use video surveillance systems must inform employees about the monitoring system. Additionally, employers are obliged to notify the Ministry of Labor of the monitoring before the monitoring. Before monitoring is carried out, the following conditions should be met:

  • Monitoring of employees must be reasonable and balanced.
  • The cameras or any other means of control must be visible.
  • Cameras must be installed only in the workplace (excluding recreational places, restrooms, or other private places).
  • The employer is not allowed to broadcast a film record.
  • Confidentiality and respect for the dignity of employees must always be maintained.
  • Recordings must be limited to images — voice recordings are not allowed.

8. Is it legal to monitor private messages and email content?

Yes. If a company has clear policies on using company property during and after working hours. In that case, it is justified to monitor activities such as sending or receiving private messages or e-mails. It is also recommended that employees sign a document that recognizes that employers can monitor such information at work.

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9. Is it legal to monitor employees’ personal devices?

Yes. Suppose the employee carries out work activities on a personal device. In that case, it should be noted that the employee is accountable to the employer during designated working hours, and the employer can restrict use during working hours if they wish to. Employers should, however, be transparent about the monitoring process and take precautions to ensure that they do not interfere with their employee’s privacy.

10. Is it legal to monitor employees’ personal computers?

Yes. As mentioned above, if the employee works on a personal computer, monitoring such devices may be considered a legitimate interest in protecting business information. That said, employers should ensure that the monitoring does not capture employees’ private information. Appropriate measures should be taken to distinguish between the personal and corporate use of the device.

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11. Is it required to inform employees of the monitoring?

Yes, Argentina’s regulations require employers to disclose to employees any monitoring that takes place.
To comply with the law, employers should ensure that:

  • Measures for monitoring employees are appropriate and fair.
  • Employees are notified of the monitoring, and consent is given.
  • The purpose of the monitoring is adequately communicated to the employees.

12. Employee monitoring policy – mandatory or not?

Yes, although there are no specific laws in place on this matter, it is always good to have detailed policies on monitoring work equipment and resources accessed on these devices, such as e-mail, the Internet, etc. Each employee should sign these policies to acknowledge that they are fully aware of the monitoring process. The policy should cover the following:

  • The nature and extent of the monitoring process.
  • The reason for the monitoring.
  • The impact of the monitoring on the business.
  • The right to monitor company devices for compliance with business objectives.
  •   

  • Ensure employees understand that they have little or no reasonable expectation of privacy when using the company’s equipment. Since it is company-owned, it can only be used for work-related purposes.

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Are there laws in Argentina that protect employee workplace privacy?

Yes. Generally, the personal information of employees is protected by the National Constitution, Section 43, and Data Protection Act 25,326, which regulates the handling, processing, and protection of personal data included in files, records, or other means of storage, both public and private.
DPL forbids the transfer of personal information to countries with lower data protection levels than Argentina without prior written permission from the owner of such data. Employers must also clearly inform their employees when obtaining their personal data before processing the data and the purposes for which the data is accessed. Employee consent is also necessary. Collected data shouldn’t be used for any purpose other than that for which the information has been provided.

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Is there professional lawyers’ advice on monitoring?

Yes. Professional lawyers advise that there must be transparency around employee monitoring. All employees subject to monitoring must be informed of the following:

  • The fact that they are being monitored.
  • The purpose of monitoring.
  • The relevant legitimate reason for the monitoring.
  • How long the collected information will be retained.
  • Employee rights with respect to monitoring.
  • The right to communicate where employees have any concerns about monitoring.

Companies should issue special documents such as policies, handbooks, consent forms e.t.c to raise awareness of the monitoring.

What is the bottom line?

Businesses must ensure that the employee monitoring process complies with the applicable laws.
It is also crucial to warn employees that their work equipment may be subject to monitoring, and such surveillance will be carried out for specific, appropriate, and proportionate purposes.

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Disclaimer
The information provided in this article is for general understanding only and not to be used as legal advice. To receive professional legal advice, please consult your lawyer.

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