Am I overreacting?

For a number of years, I've worked in a face-to-face teaching role with a private company.

I love my job but recently work have requested that all staff provide a photograph that will be emailed to customers once they have booked lessons.

I really don't want to do this because some years ago I was in a very abusive situation where my life was at risk and to this day, I'm still very careful and haven't got an identifiable online presence.

I'm concerned that once my photograph is emailed, then potentially it could end up being posted online at some point. I also feel that this is an invasion of my privacy.

It would help to hear other's point of views; is this something that I just have to agree to?
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  • Dakta
    Dakta Posts: 554
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    edited 29 September 2023 at 9:53AM
    I'd raise this as a valid concern to management - I don't know the legal position but you are right that photos can be abused especially in the digital domain.

    I can see the business reason why they might want to do this - teaching face to face is very personal and to some extent, people might be very choosy who teaches them (they might have bad experiences themselves and be looking for a specific tutor, for example it's not unusual for learner drivers to go for the same gender instructor as they feel more comfortable, though obviously it's not a hard rule just an example). So it's probably done so that the learner knows whos going to be teaching them and make it a more comfortable experience, in fact when I looked for music lessons it wasn't uncommon for training sites locally to have online profiles of the tutors with a photo and bio etc and you could even book them specifically. 

    That said, I would imagine this is done totally with their consent, and if you have concerns I totally think you should raise it, because it can be abused and you shouldn't be uncomfortable with how a company is using your data. 

    On that note, the bit of GDPR in me that I remember from a course I took yonks ago, they're going to need your consent one way or other. It's not like there's a legal basis for processing your photograph so it's got to be on consent hasn't it - so  If you're not comfortable, don't give it. I can't promise you that they will be happy with you standing firm on this, but they can't make you do it (the question really becomes what they do about it when they can't force you). 

  • Katy43
    Katy43 Posts: 131
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    Thank you very much for your reply.

    I can see both sides of this, however, we've been teaching successfully without having our photo emailed for many years.

    I will have to talk to them, but I'm worried that they might initiate disciplinary action against me, which would be devastating.
  • TBagpuss
    TBagpuss Posts: 11,198
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    It's a legitimate concern, so very reasonable for you to raise, and they would require your consent.

    Would it be possible for you to suggest alternatives to them? It's often easier to get someone to accept a 'no' if you are able to offer a solution at the same time. So possibly suggesting that you would be open to having a brief zoom / skype call before the first lesson so the customer can 'meet' you before the first lesson, or proposing that the employer provides photo ID cards so that you can provide ID showing you are the person being supplied by the company, might be options to consider.
    All posts are my personal opinion, not formal advice Always get proper, professional advice (particularly about anything legal!)
  • Katy43
    Katy43 Posts: 131
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    We do have a uniform top. Some staff have paid to have their name printed on the back so I thought that I could offer to do this.

    We are in an enclosed environment and parents will have been given the employee's name before they arrive.

    For me, it's the fact that there won't be any control over what happens to my photo once it's been emailed.
  • Where does the teaching happen? I am assuming at the customer's home or similar? 

    Assuming the above is correct, how many of those have got CCTV or video doorbells? They could already have images of you if they were wanting to post something about you online. 

    Have you changed your name and location to hide? If not then likewise people could be posting questions on Facebook Local or Neighbourhood or other such social media to solicit feedback on you. Ok no photo but if your still in the same county and same name or just reverted to maiden name then easy enough for the person to find. 

    If no one has posted anything about you online to date why do you think the photo would make them suddenly want to? If I was wanting feedback on Bob Smith from Home Tutors4U then that's what I'd post online, wouldnt think of needing a photo or such for others to give feedback.

    Dakta said:
    On that note, the bit of GDPR in me that I remember from a course I took yonks ago, they're going to need your consent one way or other.
    They've asked for a photo to be provided for this purpose so it's not like they are looking to randomly pick a photo to use (at this point at least). I'm by no means a GDPR expert but the OP would need to read the Privacy Notice (the one aimed at employees if there is a separate one which a number of clients have had in my experience) to see what it says. If there is nothing in that that could cover it there is the "legitimate business need" argument... I've not followed the ICO and how its ruled on such arguments but my conversations with lawyers its been fairly easy to argue need.
  • Dakta
    Dakta Posts: 554
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    Whether the photo is absued or not it's your personal information, so i think to sort of not beat about the bush - your photo (and your name in fact) is your personal data and it should only be given with your consent (there's exceptions such as legal obligation for processing but they don't apply here). Basically if you say no, then legally speaking from a data perstive, whether it's your name or photo, it's a no. 

    Consent should not be assumed, but I'd recommend making it clear that you don't agree.

    So that's pretty much that in one aspect, if you don't want them to give it out, from a data perspective they shouldn't and they will be breaking regulations if they do.


    The next question is then what, whilst I'd like to say you wouldn't or shouldn't face disciplinary action over this - in my opinion you shouldn't you're just exercising a legal right, but the world is a dodgy place and theres a good chance they wont be happy. If you are disciplined over this, and I do think it's doubtful (I'd more expect a lot of grumbling rather than anything official), I think you'd have a strong case - how long have you worked there, are you freelance or is it employment? these questions may become pertinent in that respect but assuming you've been there some time and you're an employee, then disciplining you for exercising a legal right really isn't going to fly. But I wouldn't worry about this too much as I don't think it likely.

    That said, there's definitely something to be said for being diplomatic and suggesting a concession if there are any you're willing to make. Maybe just suggest instead og a photo you just have a placeholder 'photo not yet available' or whetever. Shouldn't kill anyone. 


  • 400ixl
    400ixl Posts: 2,642
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    This could be so that the customer knows the person who turns up is actually the person who should. You can't do that just by a name on a shirt. I guess the alternative would be that you have to rovide identification such as a driving license when you arrive to validate you.

    If your photo is provided, under GDPR they are only allow to use it for the purpose it was supplied. They could not then take that photo and put it on the internet for any other purpose.

    Not sure how this is any more of a risk than then talking a photo of you working without your knowledge and posting it up with your name. Organisations who work with children will be aware or the rules about posting things online without permission.

    Another safe guarding of your photo could be to encapsulate it in a PDF document where the ability to copy it or print it is switched off. Wouldn't stop them screen shoting it though.

    You need to have a discussion with your management as a first step, asking for the reasons for the change and the protections they are putting in place to restrict re-use. You may need to disclose your reasons, but starting generically may get you the answers you need.
  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,318
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    I think you have a valid reason.
    But I would because I'm in a similar situation where I have kept my location out of the public domain as much as possible so I can't be traced.
    For a start, can they make the photos uncopiable? It used to be the norm for sites to do this but it's got very slack in recent times.
    I realise that should someone have the absoloute determination to copy then they would but 99% would look elsewhere for mischief.

    But in your situation I would explain why this could put you at risk and ask for another soloution. That's perfectly reasonable.
    Most people don't think or understand this because it hasn't happened to them. I came across something similar on another site where 'followers' was introduced with no means to reject them. I got that but the names stayed on the profile which was a permenant dig. I had to go to management and explain my situation.

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  • Marcon
    Marcon Posts: 10,014
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    Katy43 said:
    For a number of years, I've worked in a face-to-face teaching role with a private company.

    I love my job but recently work have requested that all staff provide a photograph that will be emailed to customers once they have booked lessons.

    I really don't want to do this because some years ago I was in a very abusive situation where my life was at risk and to this day, I'm still very careful and haven't got an identifiable online presence.

    I'm concerned that once my photograph is emailed, then potentially it could end up being posted online at some point. I also feel that this is an invasion of my privacy.

    It would help to hear other's point of views; is this something that I just have to agree to?
    I don't think you are over-reacting.

    Katy43 said:
    I'm worried that they might initiate disciplinary action against me, which would be devastating.
    You're over-reacting. Employers don't generally go around initiating disciplinary action against an employee for raising a valid concern.
    Googling on your question might have been both quicker and easier, if you're only after simple facts rather than opinions!  
  • Dakta
    Dakta Posts: 554
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    It's worth noting that I wouldn't get too bogged down with questioning technical controls to prevent copying of photographs, whilst it's a valid commentary, and a topic of interest, fundamentally they should only be distributing your photos in any form at all with your consent, which you don't give. So it should never get this far. 
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