Note: COVID-19 does not set aside privacy rules

According to the GDPR, employers are rarely allowed to process their employees’ personal data. How do the privacy regulations relate to combatting the coronavirus in the work environment?

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens) states (entry only available in Dutch) that the coronavirus does not justify an exception to the privacy regulations.

An employer is not allowed to:
– ask employees if they have symptoms matching the coronavirus;
– register where employees have vacationed;
– measure employees’ body temperature (or perform other tests to check whether the employee is infected with the coronavirus);
– register which employees are infected with the coronavirus.

An employer is allowed to:
– ask a sick employee how long he expects to be absent form work;
– ask employees if they can work at home and if there are any work appointments that must be canceled;
– contact the company doctor in case of suspected contamination with the coronavirus;
– take safety measures for the workplace in consultation with the Area Health Authority.

Please contact Ovidius Law’s employment and privacy law specialists if you have questions regarding COVID-19 at the workplace.


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