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LEGAL NEWS - Surveillance of employees

19. September 2013

Computers, internet, e-mails and company phones are ordinary tools for the daily use of many employees. When providing the employees with such tools, the employer’s intention primarily or solely is the use of these tools for the performance of work. This is especially the case if a company car is made available to the employee for the performance of his work. This is especially the case if a company car is made available to the employee for the performance of his work. However, employees sometimes use such tools for private purposes to a large or minor extent.

By virtue of his managerial authority the employer has the possibility to introduce control measures and to create corporate policies concerning the use of tools, including IT communication tools and company cars. Advanced technological developments enable employers to continuously control the electronic and physical activities of their employees during working hours.

However, such surveillance must take place in accordance with the labour-law related principle that control measures must not have an offensive effect on the employees, cause loss or expose them to significant inconvenience. The Danish Employers’ Federation (DA) and the Danish Federation of Trade Unions (LO) have formalised this principle in a protocol concerning control measures, which stipulates that control measures must be justified by operational reasons and must have a reasonable purpose in order to be used. A large number of the employer’s control measures can also be evaluated according to the rules under the Personal Data Processing Act as a parallel to the rules concerning use and misuse of the managerial right.

If surveillance of the employees is installed – for example by data logging of work computers, installation of a GPS in company cars and company phones or by TV surveillance of the workplace – and the employees’ movements or performance thus are monitored by these devices, the company is obliged to inform the employees that surveillance may take place before installing the equipment. As far as TV surveillance of the workplace is concerned, the duty to display signs and brief the employees appears directly from the Act on TV Surveillance.

If the employer does not inform the employees about the control measures, these measures will actually become illegal. In that case the employer may be ordered to pay a penalty for the surveillance. This was experienced by an electricity company which was adjudged to a penalty by the Industrial Court for having violated an agreement between DA and LO concerning control measures at the workplace,

For further information please do not hesitate to contact
MAQS Law Firm , Lawyer Niels Gade Jacobsen, phone 33 12 45 22