Employee and applicant data protection

The legally compliant implementation of statutory data protection requirements for the collection, use and processing of employee and applicant data by companies represents a particularly important area of data protection law. For one thing, employee and applicant sensitivity to this issue has significantly increased in recent years; for another, legislators are now requiring companies to pay particular attention to the issue, by way of recent new regulations for employee data protection in the German Federal Data protection Act [BDSG] and through other upcoming initiatives.

Furthermore, compliance with employee and applicant data protection rules is monitored carefully by works committees in particular, due to the often very sensitive nature of the data being handled.

Diverse legal framework

Thus the legally compliant implementation of employee data protection is correspondingly complex. First of all, the legal framework conditions are anchored in several general as well as area-specific laws. Secondly, they can potentially also be found in internal company agreements.

Implementing these legal framework conditions in a way that protects your business processes is key for your company – in terms of the efficiency of your core activities, but also in terms of your employees’ behavior and motivation.

Diverse regulatory areas

As a result, there are a large number of processes and procedures within each company that are subject to regulation and that involve processing employees’ personal data. Too often, these follow “historical” paths instead of clear, legally compliant regulations that would increase work efficiency and employee satisfaction while at the same time limiting the potential for disputes.

Particularly worth mentioning here are the following areas:

  • Private usage of email, internet, phone/fax and mobile phones as well as smartphones
  • The use of social media platforms
  • Personnel file administration (electronic and paper-based)
  • Handling applicant data
  • Electronic time recording
  • Wage and salary bookkeeping
  • Video monitoring in the workplace
  • Monitoring company vehicles using GPS
  • Performance management
  • Employee instructions in the call center
  • etc.

Diverse practical applications

Another common challenge for these issues is the combination with other data-protection-related aspects, such as data sub processing (e.g. payroll outsourcing), data exchange within a corporation (e.g. data processing center services and user helpdesks as shared services) as well as international data transfer (e.g. personnel administration performed by a foreign parent company).

Diverse risks – diverse opportunities

Overall, employee data protection is a broad field with many potential weak points, and risk minimization must be a clear priority. A violation in processing personal data here would be especially detrimental for the company’s image with shareholders, customers, current and future employees and, in the worst case, could even lead to negative reports in the local or national media. Good data protection, on the other hand, increases your reputation as a modern employer and trustworthy service provider.

Thus it is important to eliminate or minimize conflicting interests, such as between legal compliance and the optimal use of IT and telecommunications systems, or between the broad compliance requirements for companies in terms of protecting individual employees and an integrated and balanced data protection concept. As your external data protection officers, we will listen to you and find a satisfactory solution.

In particular, our experts can act as external consultants and/or external company data protection officers in your company; this gives you a better chance of success than if the management needed to come up with a workable solution together with the employee representatives – both possibly with very different ideas about the way the process should unfold.

In addition to this mediation role and the creation of a data protection concept, we naturally also focus on implementing the employee data-protection “basics,” such as creating

  • guidelines/policies and works agreements
  • procedural overviews
  • archival concepts and
  • file destruction concepts.

Our external data protection officers and attorneys at Law (Germany) contribute their comprehensive legal expertise here, along with their relevant practical experience from a wide range of industries and companies of all sizes, to your employee data protection projects. This ensures that your projects contribute to the continued success of your company in the long term in a legally compliant manner.