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Employee data protection

Q&A concerning the employee data protection advisory council

Published on 16 Jun 2020 und last updated on 16 Dec 2021

Here you will find brief and clear answers to the key questions about the employee data protection advisory council.

Why is employee data protection important?

In the digital working world, various kinds of personal employee data accrue – in human resources, for performance monitoring purposes or in the course of everyday digital collaboration. There is a conflict here – on the one hand, the employer has an interest in obtaining information; on the other, employees have an interest in protecting their privacy – and the appropriate balance needs to be found. This is why the Policy Lab at the BMAS is focusing on the topic of data protection in the workplace.

Why is an advisory council needed for employee data protection?

Up to now, any regulations aimed specifically at the employment context and governing the collection and processing of employee data have been rudimentary. This is why the Policy Lab of the BMAS is now setting up an interdisciplinary advisory council of experts to consider and discuss what legal changes are needed to help protect employees.

What content and issues does the council deal with?

One key issue is: what responsibilities do companies have when it comes to protecting their employees’ personal data? The council also addresses questions arising when new technologies are deployed in the working world. Personnel departments, for example, accumulate a wide range of data. Some application procedures are already using speech analysis to assess whether applicants possess the requisite soft skills. Employees working in the field are localised via GPS. And in call centres, which collect a wide range of personal data, more and more tasks are being automated. The council aims to highlight, for the benefit of political decision makers, possibilities for concrete action.

What is the objective of the council?

The council will meet until the end of 2020 and is meant to submit a final report in early 2021. This should provide concrete recommendations for action to ensure leading-edge employee data protection.

Who is represented on the council?

Chaired by Prof. Dr Herta Däubler-Gmelin, the council consists of 13 members from a variety of disciplines, representing both scientific and practice-oriented perspectives. The individual members introduce themselves and their respective fields of activity here.

On what basis does this expert council meet?

The coalition agreement of the 19th legislative session includes a mandate to consider a separate law for employee data protection, a possibility created by the opening clause of Article 88 of the EU General Data Protection Regulation. The aim of any prospective independent legal basis for employee data protection would be to protect the privacy rights of employees in the workplace and create new legal certainty for employers. With this in mind, this interdisciplinary council of experts should also advise Hubertus Heil, Federal Minister for Labour and Social Affairs.

When does the council meet, and how frequently?

The first meeting of the council is on 16 June 2020. It will then go on to meet once a month for an initial period up to the end of December 2020. Because of the current situation in respect of the coronavirus pandemic, the council will meet online only during this initial period.