In today’s environment, with numerous electronic devices and communication among colleagues conducted to a large degree online, it can be difficult for companies to know just how to treat the increased amount of personal employee data that they are gathering.

What is the right balance between observing your employees’ right to privacy with your legitimate need to monitor their work?

It is largely for this reason that a group of European data protection authorities known as the Article 29 Working Party (WP29) adopted new guidance on the processing of data in the workplace in June 2017.

New technologies and ways of working

The group agreed that new technologies and other practices have led to employers collecting more of their employees’ personal data, and the WP29 group also took into account the upcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation. This raises a number of interesting questions.

For example, can a company legitimately view a potential employee’s social media profile before an interview? What about the social media profiles of existing employees? Similarly, can an employer track the whereabouts of an employee driving a company car, or using a company phone?

Certain legal grounds for processing employees’ personal data

The WP29 concluded that there are certain legal grounds for processing employee data e.g. processing of payroll data, legal obligations under tax and health and safety grounds, and legitimate interests, such as an employer looking to improve efficiencies in the workplace.

The WP29 restated its position that consent is not a valid legal basis to process data, except in very limited situations where there will be no consequences for failing to provide that consent.

So how should companies proceed in light of this guidance? Simply put, an employer should:

  • consider the legal grounds it relies on to process employees’ personal data
  • ensure that processing is appropriate and as unintrusive as possible
  • clearly inform employees of this processing through a workplace monitoring policy or a similar document
  • bear in mind the principles of data protection both by design and default
  • keep abreast of national data law, as EU member states can introduce their own specific law with regard to processing employees’ personal data in the workplace.

The collection, retention and use of data is under the spotlight with the upcoming GDPR. It is crucial that you are aware of your rights and responsibilities with regard to employees’ personal data.

Our dedicated employment law team is on hand to help you with any questions you may have with regards to the personal data of your employees. Contact us if you’d like to know more, we’d be happy to help.

23 November 2017

    Gillian and all at Augustus Cullen Law, A million thanks for a great job done. Justice for our son at last!!

    Catherine, Liam & William

    Dear Michael, A great result was achieved because of your efforts and we were truly blessed to have you on our side.

    Kathleen, Medical Negligence Client

    Dear Joice…you are and have been very professional, sympathetic and dignified in all of your dealings with us and I put that down to one simple fact. You listened.

    James, Medical Negligence Client

    Geraldine, Thank you most sincerely for all your hard work and commitment to these children.

    Freda McKittrick, Head of Barnardos Beacon Guardian Ad Litem service

    Neil is an absolute gentleman to deal with – kind, tactful and very efficient. We could not praise him highly enough. He brought us through a horrible time.

    Sean, Medical Negligence Client

    Many thanks again for a job well done. We really appreciate all your hard work and practical advice.

    Corporate client in a commercial litigation matter

    Dear Jamie, You and your team in ACL were so professional, diligent and prompt. I have recommended you and the firm, and will continue to do so

    Lorraine McCarthy

    Gus Cullen and the firm’s approach to addressing the key issues was professional, yet personal, efficient yet attentive.


    The process is a difficult one and when you deal with people who are so professional and yet genuine/real people, it makes it so much easier... so thanks a million.


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