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Germany: Labour Court decision on video surveillance for distance monitoring during Covid-19

  • On 24 April 2020, the Labour Court of Wesel, a city of the North Rhine-Westphalia, issued a decision on the use of specific devices to permanently monitor the behaviour of employees to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The use of cameras for employees monitoring should respect the local rules on data protection, labour law and be proportionate with the right of each person “to his or her own image”.

In the specific case, the company collected images of employees in order to monitor the safety distance and transferred the files abroad where they were anonymised.   According to the Court this company procedure violated the rules on co-determination by the works councils, which covered the specific case of “introduction and use of technical devices designed to monitor the behaviour or performance of the employees” (section 87 (1) Nos. 6 and 7 of the Works Constitution Act (Betriebsverfassungsgesetz)). Moreover, the transfer of data abroad was contrary to the work’s council agreement in the company and was disproportionate.