Fine for spying on employees and Registration of COVID vaccinations


17 June 2021 – Yvette Kouwenberg

Fine for spying on employees

Recently, the French courts imposed a fine of no less than EUR 1 million on IKEA for spying on (prospective) employees. The company had been storing personal data of its staff that had been unlawfully obtained. IKEA inter alia used ‘ghost’ employees to compile reports on staff members and had it assigned private investigators to do research on how a staff member could afford an expensive car.

In the Netherlands it is not simply sustained either to monitor employees in such a way. Assigning a company investigation agency to e.g. observe an ill employee in case of a possible sick leave fraud requires a concrete suspicion to start with. Further, the observations must be inter alia as limited as possible in number and duration and it is relevant whether the observations relate to the public space or the home of the employee. In each individual case, the interest of the employer is always set off against the interest of the employee in protecting his privacy.

Registration of COVID vaccinations

More and more people have received an invitation from the government to be vaccinated against corona. Is an employer allowed to keep track of whether an employee has been vaccinated or not? The answer is no, because this concerns health data. These are considered special personal data that, in principle, may not be registered, even if an employee were to give permission. As an employee is considered to have a dependent position in relation to his employer, it is assumed that such consent cannot be given completely freely. Please be aware that when an employee takes up ‘vaccination leave’ offered to him by the employer to enable personnel to be vaccinated during working hours also (indirectly) entails registering the vaccination status of an employee.

Yvette Kouwenberg