WP29: processing of personal data at work

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The employee has a private life in the workplace

The opinion of the WP29 on the processing of personal data at work adopted on June 8th, 2017 aims to assess the risks of using new technologies in the workplace in terms of respect for employees’ privacy. 

This opinion makes a new assessment of the balance between employers’ legitimate interests and employees’ reasonable expectations of privacy by outlining the risks posed by new technologies and undertaking a proportionality assessment of several scenarios in which they could be deployed.

It reaffirmed and clarified several points raised in its previous opinions of September 13th, 2001 (Opinion No. 8/2001 WP 48) and May 29th, 2002 (WP 55). “The information registered from the ongoing monitoring, as well as the information that is shown to the employer, should be minimised as much as possible. Employees should have the possibility to temporarily shut off location tracking, if justified by the circumstances. Solutions that, for example, track vehicles can be designed to register the position data without presenting it to the employer. Employers must take the principle of data minimisation into account when deciding on the deployment of new technologies. The information should be stored for the minimum amount of time needed with a retention period specified. Whenever information is no longer needed it should be deleted”.

It recalled that it is difficult to rely on the consent of employees for the processing of their personal data in the context of employment relations, as they are rarely able to freely give or refuse to give their consent or even to revoke it, because of the dependency relationship that exists between the employer and the employee.

It also stressed the importance of transparency and the right of employees to be informed of any processing of personal data. It also reiterated the objective of proportionality in the processing of personal data.

Thus, it conducted an analysis of the processing of personal data during recruitment, the collection of information on employees on social networks, the monitoring of computer tools used by workers in their workplaces and outside, the use of tools to check schedules and the presence of workers, video surveillance, geo-tracking of professional vehicles or sharing workers’ data with third parties.

It made several recommendations. Thus, it indicated that, during recruitment, the employer can integrate into his selection process data from social networks or other data on the candidate available online, provided that the examination of these data online is necessary for the vacancy and that the candidate is informed.