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Employee Data Protection

Report of the independent interdisciplinary Council on Employee Data Protection

Published on 31 Mar 2022

On 17 January 2022 the interdisciplinary Council on Employee Data Protection completed its work by presenting Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Hubertus Heil with the resulting theses and recommendations for further developing employee data protection.


“The Council on Employee Data Protection’s concluding report has come at exactly the right time. During this parliamentary term, the new coalition intends to introduce provisions covering employee data protection with the goal being to provide legal clarity for employers and employees and to protect employees’ personal rights. In light of the far-reaching changes the working world is currently experiencing as a result of digitalisation, it is necessary to afford employees better protection if we want to strengthen people’s trust in new technological fields such as big data and Artificial Intelligence. The report published today presents in detail what is required of employee data protection in today’s world and constitutes a solid basis for the work ahead. I would like to express my sincere thanks to the council’s members.”

Hubertus Heil, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs 

“Effective employee data protection has to balance the rights of employees and the interests of employers in a fair manner, paying due regard to the developments of the digital era while establishing transparency and legal certainty. In implementing this, utmost priority must be given to protecting basic rights, in particular safeguarding human dignity as well as employees’ general right of privacy.”

Prof. Dr Herta Däubler-Gmelin, Chair of the Employee Data Protection Advisory Committee

With the appointment of the independent interdisciplinary Council on Employee Data Protection, the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (BMAS) carried out the mandate it had been given in the coalition agreement for the 19th parliamentary term, which tasked the BMAS with reviewing whether a stand-alone law on employee data protection should be enacted. The committee commenced its work in June 2020 under the leadership of the former Federal Minister of Justice Prof. Dr Herta Däubler-Gmelin. Its members come from the areas of occupational and organisational psychology, supervisory data protection authorities, operational practice, ethics, information technology and law. During regular meetings, they debated the data protection law requirements of a rapidly changing and technology-driven working world.

The topics discussed ranged from limits on controlling and monitoring employees to the question of how much information is permissible to gather about job applicants as well as the use of Artificial Intelligence in HR work. The consultations centred on legal issues related to employee data protection while considering the ethical, economic and technological perspectives. The discussions also drew on a broad spectrum of external expertise. Of particular note were the important contributions that the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) and the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA) brought to the table. The committee also listened to representatives of Germany’s Datenschutzkonferenz (Data Protection Conference) and Datenethikkommission (Data Ethics Commission). Internal and external data protection officers, works council members and employers reported on operational practice. The discussions and work of the committee were free of any outside influence.