The Minister of Labour has recently stated that as long as
certain conditions are observed, the recording of phone
conversations between call centre employees and customers does not
constitute a form of remote monitoring as prohibited under Article
4 of the Statute of Employees (Law 300/1970) and Article 114 of the
Privacy Code (Legislative Decree 196/2003).
The question raised with the Minister by Confindustria,
Italy's main trade association for manufacturing and services
companies, focused on the applicability of the remote monitoring
prohibition under Article 4 of the Statute of Employees to a system
for recording telephone conversations between call centre employees
and customers in order to monitor the quality of customer service
Confindustria specified that the monitoring would be
carried out on a sample of calls and under several important
privacy protection conditions, such as: (i) encrypting the voices
of the call centre employees and customers during recording in
order to conceal their identities; (ii) deleting the beginning of
conversations to remove the name of the employee; (iii) removing
information about the employees to prevent the identification of
particular individuals; and (iv) limiting and tracking access to
the recorded data, which would be available only to authorized
In view of the provisions for anonymous data processing, the
Minister of Labour issued an administrative provision on March 1
2010 - confirming a previous announcement of June 6 2006 - which
confirmed that telephone conversations in the workplace can be
recorded, provided that the privacy of the employees in question is
protected during the performance of their professional
This significant interpretation of the law will have two main
First, if companies respect the restrictions that are intended
to prevent the disclosure of the identities of both call centre
employees and customers, they are not obliged to complete a
difficult procedure with trade union representatives in order to
install monitoring systems.
Second, if it complies with the applicable limitations, a
company can be sure of avoiding the possible consequences of
infringement, which include punitive damages and criminal
However, if a company prefers not to anonymize the employees and
customers involved - if it can show objective organizational and
productive reasons or security interests for retaining the
identifying information - it must comply with the conditions of
Limits under Italian Law
In addition to systems with the sole aim of monitoring
employees, Article 4 of the Statute of Employees and Article 114 of
the Privacy Code prohibit remote monitoring systems for other
purposes by which employees may potentially be monitored in the
performance of their work - termed controllo
preterintenzionale - unless such monitoring is justified in
the interests of security or is required for organizational and
Where such an exception applies, the employers must consult
specific internal trade union representatives. In the absence of an
applicable agreement with a trade union, the labour office
(Direzione Provinciale del Lavoro) will issue a provision
for this purpose.
Failure to follow the procedure for installing monitoring
systems is punishable in criminal law under Article 38, of the
Statute of Employees, and as a form of anti-union conduct under
Article 28, of the Statute of Employees, which requires the
offending party to terminate the offending conduct and make good
Furthermore, personal information acquired by remote monitoring
in contravention of the above prohibitions has no evidential value
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.
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