All you should know about video surveillance in communities of owners. (Final part)

It is legal to place video surveillance cameras in a workplace?

Article 20 of the Spanish Workers' Statute empowers the employer to take "any action it deems most appropriate to watch and monitor or verify compliance by the worker of their obligations and work duties

 

In my last article I was asserting the need to deal with a professional security firm registered in the Register of Security Companies in Spain, this simple fact will avoid many unforeseen problems.

We also analyse the problem of guaranteeing privacy by not recording images in public areas. The importance of obtaining high definition quality cameras together with the necessity to register the video file in the General Data Protection Register of the Spanish Data Protection Agency (AEPD).

 

The duty to inform.

We also had the duty to inform. Written signs must be in the entrances and in various strategic places, informing that the area is been video monitored. The signs must clearly indicate the identity of the installation and to whom and where to go to exercise the rights under the rules of data protection. The AEPD has a model application form which could be used. The Information could also be available from the concierge, reception, offices and notice boards or be accessible via the Internet.

 

This week we will scrutinize the aspects we have to take into account if we decide to place video vigilance in a place of work.

 

It is legal to place video surveillance cameras in a workplace?

Article 20 of the Spanish Workers' Statute empowers the employer to take "any action it deems most appropriate to watch and monitor or verify compliance by the worker of their obligations and work duties, keeping in mind that the application of that norm must take into consideration human dignity.

 

What does the last paragraph actually means?

In view of the wording of Article 20 It has been concluded by reading Spanish jurisprudence that, yes, it is allowed to place these surveillance systems. However, this installation does not violate the right to privacy of workers?

The Spanish Constitutional Court has set a number of requirements that allow precisely the privacy of workers while recognizing the powers of surveillance by the employer.

 

 

What are the requirements to put a surveillance camera in a work place?

The Spanish Constitutional Court has tried to weigh the supervisory power of the employer with the right to privacy and dignity of the worker. To this end, it has established circumstances or requirements that make legitimate the installation of video surveillance cameras.

These are:

1. It must be proven that it is really necessary to place video surveillance camera not just being sufficient to provide any reasons but a clear and specific justification is required.

2. The sole purpose of the installation of the camera must be the seeking of combating serious crimes; there must be the existence of reasonable suspicion and the placement of these systems the only mechanism capable of discovering the guilty party.

3. They must be placed in places strictly necessary to fulfil the purpose for which they have been installed. Not being allowed to place these video cameras in places where the employees do not execute the actual work, for example, in canteens, bathrooms, rest areas, changing rooms, etc. Why these places are excluded? It is precisely to preserve the privacy of workers.

 

What happens if cameras are placed in prohibited places and a worker is fired?

If the employer install these video cameras in prohibited places and someone is fired, the dismissal will be declared void, as seen countless times by the Spanish judicial doctrine, and will lead to the reinstatement of the worker in their job plus the payment to the worker of any lost wages.

However, this is not the only regulations governing the installation of surveillance cameras in a workplace. The sounds and images are subject to protection by the Organic Law on Data Protection the (L.O.P.D.). Thus, any film that is made by the surveillance cameras recording qualifies as "data processing" so it falls squarely within this scope.

 

If the company fails to comply with the right to inform the workers with regards to data collection (art. 5 of Law 15/1999, Data Protection) will be considered a minor offense and may face fines ranging from 601€ to  60,101€. Worst consequences would be acquired if the video files are not register in the Spanish Data Protection Agency or the files are used with a different purpose for which they were intended. In this case, the infringement is considered as serious and the employer would face penalties between 60.101,21€ and 300.506,25€. Not a joke by any means.

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