Privacy protection - Technological surveillance - Alasivu

An employer has the right to supervise employees during working hours, within the limitations specified by law. An employer is also required to supervise work in order to ensure occupational safety.

The data collected through surveillance must be necessary for the employment relationship; protection of property and ensuring the safety of personnel and customers are also acceptable justifications for surveillance.

Technological surveillance includes:

  • access control
  • camera surveillance
  • surveillance over the intranet or via an electronic calendar
  • e-mail and computer network monitoring
  • employee location monitoring.

Technological surveillance equipment has advanced rapidly. The purpose and implementation of technological surveillance and the methods used to conduct any technological surveillance of employees must be discussed during co-operation procedures. Employers of entities that fall outside the scope of the legislation on cooperation must also give employees or their representatives a chance to be heard before making decisions regarding the above issues. The employer must inform employees of the introduction and implementation of any and all surveillance methods used and agree on the required ground rules.

Principles of technological surveillance

Camera surveillance is addressed in the Act on Data Protection in Working Life. The same principles are applicable to other kinds of technological surveillance at the workplace.

The employer may use camera surveillance on premises used by the employer. Before introducing camera surveillance, the employer must explore the feasibility of other methods that interfere less with the privacy protection of employees. The employer should not interfere with the privacy of employees any more than is necessary for achieving the aim of the measures. The employer must ensure that employees know the location of the cameras in the workplace and the purpose of the recordings obtained.

The employer may only operate camera surveillance if it is essential for:

  • ensuring the personal safety of employees at the workplace
  • supervising the correct running of production processes
  • preventing and investigating situations that endanger safety, property or the production process.

Camera surveillance must not be operated:

  • for the observation at the workplace of specific employees only
  • for the control of issues related to labour law, such as the observation of working hours
  • in a room assigned to an employee for personal use
  • in personnel facilities, such as changing rooms or lavatories.

In exceptional circumstances, camera surveillance can be directed at an individual employee if it is necessary

  • for preventing a threat of violence or harm to the employee’s safety or health
  • for preventing or investigating property crimes if an essential part of the employee’s work is to handle property of high value or quality
  • for safeguarding the employee’s interests and rights where the camera surveillance is based on the request of the employee who is to be the subject of the camera surveillance.

The recordings obtained through camera surveillance may not be used for purposes other than the purpose for which the surveillance was carried out. However, the employer has the right to use recordings for

  • substantiating the grounds for termination of an employment relationship
  • investigating and substantiating harassment, molestation or inappropriate behaviour
  • investigating an occupational accident or some other situation causing a danger or threat referred to in the Occupational Safety and Health Act.