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The Spanish Supreme Court allows the use of video surveillance

| Publications | Employment Law and Social Security

Regarding Video Surveillance Measures for Monitoring Employee Compliance with Work Duties and Norms

In recent judgments dated 31 January 2017 and 2 February 2017, the Spanish Supreme Court (SC) ruled on evidence obtained using video surveillance to justify the dismissal of a worker.

The SC considered this means of obtaining evidence to be legally valid, limiting the scope of the information that must be provided to workers when the company installs a video surveillance system, in line with recent views expressed by the Constitutional Court in this regard.

The Data Protection Act provides that the processing of personal data requires the consent of the affected party, except in cases where the law provides otherwise. However, generally, worker consent in the workplace becomes less applicable a criterion, as supervision is implicitly understood as part of this form of business relationship, as is clear from the provisions of Article 20 of the Worker's Statute. That provision explicitly mentions the ability of employers to undertake surveillance and control measures in order to verify compliance by the worker with his/her obligations and work duties. For this reason, and with respect to this type of measure, the company would be following legal obligations regarding personal data protection if it places the cameras and the corresponding due notices of video surveillance in readily visible locations.

In the cases involved in the judgments, the companies employed video surveillance system(s) for safety reasons, and the installation(s) in question were not hidden or unknown to the workers, even if they had not been expressly informed of their purpose for work supervision. As the workers in this case were fired for theft, breach of trust, and breach of contractual good faith, the SC considered that the evidence obtained and used to justify disciplinary dismissal was valid.

Nevertheless, the sentence does include a reminder to the effect that the scope of action of private enterprise is generally constrained by fundamental worker rights. In this regard, the use of video surveillance must be reasonable and proportionate to its purpose, without encroaching upon or violating worker rights to privacy, honor and/or personal and familial integrity when such systems are employed at a given site. In short, the use of such measures is permissible, as long as it is justifiable, appropriate and proportionate.

For further information, please contact:

Iñaki Olmos Martínez

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