European Court of Human Rights (Hadrian/Shutterstock)
The European Court of Human Rights has found that covertly videotaping an employee at their workplace constitutes an intrusion into their private life in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. In a decision handed down on January 9, the court ruled in favor of five former employees of a supermarket chain in Spain, who were fired after their employer caught them engaging in or facilitating theft, based on evidence from surveillance cameras that had been installed without the employees’ knowledge, Dentons attorney Claire Maclean explains at Lexology:
The employees challenged their dismissals before the Spanish courts, arguing that the use of covert video surveillance in the workplace without prior notice was unlawful. These challenges were unsuccessful so they raised proceedings before the ECHR alleging that the covert video surveillance violated their right to privacy protected by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The court held that the installation of the covert cameras had not complied with the Spanish legislation on data protection. The Spanish Data Protection Agency had issued an instruction clarifying that anyone using video surveillance had to place a distinctive sign indicating the areas that were under surveillance.
The court ordered Spain to pay each of the applicants 4,000 euros in respect of non-pecuniary damage, plus court costs, but rejected the applicants’ claim that they were entitled to pecuniary damages for the wages they would have earned had the Spanish courts declared their dismissals unfair and reinstated their employment at the supermarket.
The European Commission, the executive governing body of the EU, is concerned about the status of gig economy workers and wants to see them granted new rights and protections, Reuters reports, citing a new consultation document issued this weekend:
The document proposes a substantial review of EU social rights that could partly limit employment flexibility and ease insecurity caused by new types of “gig economy” jobs offered by firms like Uber and food-delivery service Deliveroo. Brussels is proposing to extend full social protection and other forms of security to all workers, including those on very short-term, part-time and zero-hour contracts who in some EU member countries have lower safeguards. …
The Commission is proposing that workers should be properly informed about the conditions of their employment and given explanations by employers for not having a permanent contract after a few years in the same job. Casual workers should also be entitled to a minimum number of guaranteed hours “after a predefined continuous period,” the Commission said. But the enhanced protection would not be applicable to self-employed workers, which could provide a loophole for employers such as Uber and Deliveroo.
The commission has expressed concern about the job security and precarious income of gig economy workers before, noting in a proposal in April for a “European Pillar of Social Rights” that the changing nature of work in the 21st century required a new approach to employment regulation and the social safety net. That proposal included a “right to adequate social protection” for both regular employees and self-employed workers “regardless of the type and duration of their employment relationship.”