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Privacy at work (2/3) - Camera images

What is your boss allowed to know about you?

We are discovering more and more how many people and organizations know more about us than we thought. So we keep protecting our data more and more. Because privacy also plays a very important role in the workplace, says De Unie this week this week extensively. Because what is your employer actually allowed to know about you, and what can you say: "None of your business"? Today: camera surveillance on the work floor.

 Employers can check 'the business' and their employees in various ways: including with clock systems, GPS or monitoring internet and telephone traffic. But if you work at Schiphol, in a disco or at a jeweler, chances are that you can also be seen on camera images. Of course to protect precious jewelery or the safety of visitors and passers-by. But it also infringes your privacy.

Is your employer allowed to check you with cameras?

Your employer may monitor you and your colleagues with camera images if there is an overriding importance than privacy. Such as the safety of all Schiphol visitors. There may be no other way available: your employer must always use the simplest, least invasive control method. Think of security gates at the exit against theft, instead of camera surveillance. Does your employer still hang up cameras and do images show that you are doing your job badly? Then they may not be used against you; the images are there for a different purpose - although a judge sometimes allows such evidence in a lawsuit.

And is your employer allowed to film you without you knowing?

Does your employer want to hang up cameras? Then you must always be informed about this; usually something like this is on a sign at the entrance or in a regulation, protocol or code of conduct. And does your company have a works council? Then he must agree before your employer hangs up the cameras. Incidentally, the Works Council must do this with any personnel tracking system, including a GPS tracker in the car.

Secret control

Nevertheless, your employer can also carry out secret checks, but only in special situations. For example, if there is a concrete suspicion that you or a colleague is doing something that is punishable or prohibited, such as stealing from cash register. The camera may then only be aimed at the cash register, and not at the whole thing. Does your boss suspect someone is stealing from the warehouse at night? Then there may only be a camera that only records at night.

It is precisely in the case of secret checks that the interest for the employer must outweigh privacy. Therefore, a judge does not allow proof of mystery shoppers with hidden camera, for example; the invasion of your privacy is then too great. In some cases, your employers even have to coordinate with the Dutch Data Protection Authority or hidden cameras are too drastic.

Secret checks should never be structural in any case, only in exceptional cases. You and your colleagues must also know that your employer can use the drug, for example through regulations. The Works Council must again give permission for this. And has there been a secret check? Then you must always be informed about this; even if the check didn't work or the action wasn't aimed at you.

What happens to the camera images?

Your employer may not keep the images longer than necessary; the guideline of the Dutch Data Protection Authority is a maximum of four weeks. Has an incident been recorded on the images? Then your employer may keep it until the incident has been dealt with.


Do you want to know if your employer checks you, and how? Then check your company regulations or the rules of conduct. Or just ask: your employer simply has to answer honestly. You can also always contact the specialists of De Unie. They will explain to you in detail what your rights are and how you can start a conversation about your privacy in the workplace. Call or email us on 0345 851 963 or

This article is part of our privacy series. Earlier this week we have the first part published, Monday will be the last. So would you like to know more about privacy, your employer and your rights in the workplace? follow De Unie!