University of Twente Student Theses


European labour law and the protection of workers' privacy : a loophole?

Maschlanka, Luisa (2017) European labour law and the protection of workers' privacy : a loophole?

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Abstract:This year, the judges of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg will have to decide on the case of Bărbulescu v. Romania. The case raises serious questions about the interpretation of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) with regard to the protection of the right to privacy at the workplace. The outcome of the proceedings could become a landmark for labour protection standards in whole Europe. Since the ECHR is one of the sources of EU human rights law, it will also have an impact on EU labour standards. New technological innovations in the field of computer technology have increased both the number of monitoring devices available to employers as well as the efficiency of these instruments to extract, process and store personal information about employees.1 The use of monitoring devices by employers has transformed working conditions and the relation between worker and employer.2 The intrusiveness of some instruments calls into question current labour protection standards and raises new demands for limiting the extent to which employers can restrict the employees' right to privacy. Despite growing interest in monitoring technology, international and regional labour standards related to data protection at the workplace are fragmented and a legal consensus is not established. It remains a legal grey area. Taking this as a starting point, the paper discusses the extent to which the EU regulatory framework protects the employees' right to privacy against surveillance at work. In order to provide an answer to this question, the paper will proceed as follows. First, both the topic and its relevance for society will be explained. In the next step, the research question and sub-questions will be defined and the interests of the employer and the employees will be briefly discussed. A legal analysis of EU legal competence in the field of labour standards and in particular with regard to the protection of the employees' right to privacy at the workplace will follow. Both international standards as well as European Union secondary legislation, policy documents and relevant case law will be identified. The paper will conclude by arguing that general safeguards for the protection of workers' privacy are in place, however, more specific rules that provide guidance on the implementation of these general principles, are missing.
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:89 political science
Programme:Management Society and Technology BSc (56654)
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