German employment data law reform put on hold

Carsten Kociok

Following wide range criticism from the opposition, the unions and various data protection officials, the German government coalition last week eventually withdrew its highly disputed bill for a new employee data protection regime in Germany.

The bill, which the government had originally published in August 2010 and which had been substantially amended twice since then, was supposed to introduce new rules for the collection, processing and use of employee data prior to and during an employer-employee relationship.

Amongst the most disputed regulations of the bill were various provisions which, subject to certain restrictions, allowed for

  • the use of tracking systems for the location of employees;
  • pre-recruitment medial examinations;
  • video surveillances of non-publicly accessible business premises;
  • the collection, processing and use of biometric data; and
  • the collection, processing and use of data generated through the use of telephone, internet or other telecommunication services.

According to senior government officials, additional discussions with the relevant stakeholders shall now take place before the legislative proceedings are resumed. It remains to be seen whether this will lead to further amendments of the bill or whether the bill will finally be dropped completely and replaced by a new draft.

In the meantime, employee data continue to be specifically addressed only by a single provision within the Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz) which broadly allows for the collection, processing and use of employee data if it is necessary for the conclusion, execution or termination of an employer-employee relationship.

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