International Employment Law Developments

Orrick Establishes Automated GDPR Readiness Assessment Tool

 

On September 6, 2017, Orrick announced the launch of its innovative online automated GDPR Readiness Assessment Tool. The tool helps organizations assess their state of readiness with the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that comes into effect on 25 May 2018. The tool segments the GDPR into 14 workable themes and takes users through a series of questions relating to each theme. READ MORE

Germany: Employee Monitoring by Keylogger Permitted Only in Exceptional Cases

According to a recent decision of the German Federal Labor Court (Bundesarbeitsgericht – BAG), the use of a keylogger software, which records all keyboard entries on a workplace computer for covert monitoring and control of the employee, is prohibited if there is no suspicion of a criminal offense or severe breach of duty.

Legal Background

Although severely exceeding the limits of permissible private use of the workplace computer and Internet may in principle constitute such a grave infringement of the obligations under the employment relationship that a dismissal with immediate effect may be justified, it must be kept in mind that the employer bears the burden of proof for the employee’s misconduct in case of a claim for unfair dismissal.

If evidence is achieved in breach of the Federal Data Protection Act (Bundesdatenschutzgesetz – BDSG), this generally indicates that its utilization in legal proceedings may infringe the employee’s right on informational self-determination and, therefore, is not admissible evidence. READ MORE

Be Prepared Update on EU Employment Data Privacy Laws

Global companies face stricter rules on employee data privacy, in particular when using social media and internal monitoring tools. It also now becomes clearer that many EU Member States will use the opening clause of Art. 88 General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) to re-implement their “old” data privacy laws.

  1. Use of Social Media And Employee Analysis Tools Under GDPR

Recently, the Article 29 Working Party (“WP29”), the expert group of European data protection authorities, published its opinion on the upcoming changes relating to data privacy at the work place. It explains what employers should do for ensuring compliance with the GDPR and provides guidelines for the use of information found on social media platforms – such as Facebook or LinkedIn and for electronic monitoring of employees. READ MORE

Agency and Contractor Compliance in Germany–Are You Ready?

On April 1 2017, the reform of the German Act on Temporary Agency Work (Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz) came into force bringing major changes for agencies and their clients. Agencies and their customers have to revisit work processes and agreements. The same is true for the use of external staff based on service or work contracts (e.g., facility management, IT services) The time to act is now, since not all changes are subject to transition periods. In fact, material changes already came into force on April 1,2017, the violation of which may result in severe sanctions up to criminal penalties.

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Germany’s Financial Regulator Implements New Electronic System Guaranteeing Whistleblowers Absolute Anonymity and Non-traceability

As we reported last summer, Germany’s Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) set up a centralized platform for receiving whistleblower complaints of alleged violations of supervisory provisions within the financial sector.

Beginning this year, the BaFin implemented a new electronic system, allowing whistleblowers to submit their reports. The system guarantees the informants absolute anonymity, while on the other hand enabling the BaFin to make contact regarding possible inquiries. Thereby, although taking place on anonymous basis, the newly installed communication channel is expected to give BaFin the opportunity to verify the truth value of the submitted information by posing further questions, e.g. regarding the background of the complaint. READ MORE

New Restrictions for Temporary Agency Work in Germany in 2017

On October 21, 2016, the German Parliament adopted the draft law regarding the reform of the German Act on Temporary Agency Work (Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz – AÜG). The reform will come into force as planned on April 1, 2017 and will bring material changes for both, agencies and their customers, the host businesses.

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Germany: Legislative Change Requires Amendments to Standard Employment Contracts

A legislative change that entered into force on October 1, 2016, affects multinationals with employees working in Germany. In order to comply with these recent changes, companies doing business in Germany should now double-check and, where necessary, adjust their standard employment contracts.

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ECJ: No Discrimination Claims for Mock Applicants in Europe

Just in time for the 10th anniversary of the German General Equal Treatment Act (Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz – AGG) the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has clarified that European anti-discrimination law does not protect mock applicants, i.e. applicants who are not interested in being hired, but solely apply in order to bring claims on the grounds of discrimination. The judgment will make it easier for companies in Europe to reject such discrimination claims in the future.

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Germany’s Financial Regulator Establishes New Whistleblower Platform

Last week, Germany’s Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) unveiled a centralized platform for receiving whistleblower complaints, including anonymous complaints, of alleged violations of supervisory provisions within the financial sector.  The move appears to represent a shift in German ideology toward a more favorable view of anonymous reporting, which for many years was discouraged in Germany and more broadly in the EU due to the risk of “organized systems of denouncement.”  Under the new program, whistleblowers may submit reports in writing (on paper or electronically), by phone (with or without recording the conversation), or verbally.  BaFin’s press release announcing the program states that it will make the anonymity of whistleblowers a “top priority,” and that it will not pass on the identity of whistleblowers to third parties.  The program is “aimed at person with a special knowledge of a company’s internal affairs – for example because they are employed there or have some other contractual relationship or relationship of trust with the company.”

BaFin was required to implement this new platform due to an amendment to the German Act on Financial Services Supervision.  Notably, the Act only applies to the financial services sector, not including external accountants, tax consultants and attorneys. It provides that employees working in the financial services sector may not be held liable for reporting potential or actual breaches of law under either employment law or criminal law, unless the report was false or grossly negligent.

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