Ireland: Employment Law Update: The Data Protection Commissioner's 2015 Annual Report – Takeaways For Employers

On 21 June 2016, the Data Protection Commissioner (the "DPC"), Helen Dixon, published her Annual Report for 2015.  The Report identified a number of issues which are relevant to organisations with employees in Ireland.

Background checks – enforced subject access requests

Since 18 July 2014, it has been a criminal offence for employers to require employees or prospective employees to make a subject access request seeking copies of their personal data, for example, from An Garda Síochána (the Irish police force) or a credit bureau.  The practice of requiring employees or prospective employees to make subject access requests to An Garda Síochána and requiring employees to hand over the results of those checks had been used as an means of conducting unofficial criminal background checks.

During the course of 2015, the DPC investigated compliance with this law with a particular focus on the use of subject access requests to conduct criminal background checks.  The reason for this focus was a concern about the consistently high number of subject access requests being made to An Garda Síochána each year.

The DPC's Report refers to an audit of forty organisations across a range of industries following which a number of organisations were directed to cease the practice immediately. The DPC plans to continue monitoring organisations across a range of sectors for this practice throughout the remainder of 2016.

We recommend that employers review their background check policy to ensure they are fully compliant with the law in this regard.

The law on enforced background checks does not affect mandatory Garda vetting for those working with children, vulnerable adults or in the security sector.     

Use of CCTV footage

The DPC considered the use of CCTV footage as evidence in a disciplinary process in a case study involving a bus company.

While reviewing CCTV footage as part of an investigation into an unrelated customer complaint, the bus company saw an employee using her mobile phone while driving.  The company sought to introduce the CCTV footage into evidence as part of a disciplinary process against the employee. The employee objected, claiming that the footage had been unfairly obtained.

The DPC found that the company had breached its data protection obligations on the basis that:

  • it failed to properly inform the employee that CCTV footage might be used in disciplinary proceedings; and
  • there was no indication at the time the footage was initially processed that it related to a "serious matter" involving the employee. Therefore, the processing was unjustified.

The DPC went on to comment that in other circumstances the use of the footage might have been acceptable, particularly if it was "in response to an urgent situation"  and the employer had the correct procedures in place.

In a separate case study involving CCTV, the DPC found that the use of a CCTV camera in a staff canteen was "excessive" and in contravention of the data protection legislation.

An employee of a supermarket was dismissed after she placed a paper bag over a CCTV camera in the canteen. In a complaint to the DPC, the employee argued that she was never officially told about the existence of the camera or why it was in the canteen. In its response, the supermarket stated that the camera had been installed for a number of reasons, including, to prevent staff theft, to prevent bullying and harassment and for the overall hygiene of the canteen. The DPC rejected this argument and found that there was no justification for having a CCTV camera in the staff canteen area.

Both cases highlight the importance for employers to have a comprehensive CCTV policy in place, which is properly adhered to, and brought to the attention of every employee.

Use of biometric attendance systems

A biometric system is a technological system which uses physical or physiological information about a person to identify them.  Examples include a clock-in system which requires the person to scan their fingerprint, hand or eye.  

While such systems are still relatively uncommon, the DPC made it clear in her Report that before introducing a biometric system, employers must carry out an assessment of the need for such a system and an evaluation of any possible alternatives.

Conclusion

An employee's right to privacy and to the protection of their personal data should be at the forefront of every employer's mind.  The collection and use of an employee's personal data must be fair, lawful and proportionate. 

As stated in the Report, the DPC is absolutely committed to ensuring that all organisations properly comply with data protection legislation as regards their employees. The issues highlighted serve as a helpful reminder to employers to ensure that they have adequate data protection policies in place which are fully compliant with these laws.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
Events from this Firm
13 Sep 2017, Seminar, Dublin, Ireland

We will host our third Employment Law Top Tips seminar for 2017 on Wednesday 13 September in our offices at South Bank House, Barrow Street, Dublin 4.

 
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.