New Labour Code in Lithuania: efforts to enhance protection of employees’ personal data
May 28, 2015
Lithuania is in the process of implementing reform of its labour regulation. The current Labour Code, in force since 2003, does not fully reflect the actual needs of both employers and employees. The Government has therefore engaged a wide group of experts to prepare a new labour regulatory model.
A proposed draft of the new Labour Code (“Draft Code”) was publically announced by the working group in March 2015. The Draft Code is currently undergoing intense debate within Government and by social partners. It will then be transferred to Parliament who will finally decide on its adoption.
The Draft Code aims to ensure more flexibility and more balance within labour legal relations. It primarily deals with key issues of labour relations such as dismissal conditions, working time issues and amount of social guarantees. It also deals with certain employees’ right to privacy issues and defines quite specific obligations for employers.
Set out below, are several examples of data protection and privacy provisions which are included in the Draft Code:
- an employer that has more than 50 employees is required to publish information about its employees’ data protection policy on its website and also include any implementation measures relating to that policy. This information has to be renewed at least once a year;
- in cases where the employer determines remote working conditions, these must not infringe the employee’s data protection and privacy rights;
- an employer is not allowed to process employees’ personal data, for functions not related to labour relations;
- an employer is not allowed to transfer employees’ personal data to third parties, except in cases defined by law;
- employees have to be familiar with the terms and conditions under which an employer uses information and communication technologies and performs surveillance and control in the work place;
- in cases where an employer controls information and communication technologies used in the work place, it must not infringe employees’ right to communication secrecy;
- an employer is not allowed to use video surveillance and audio recording measures in the work place specifically for the purpose of controlling the quality and amount of work.
None of the provisions above are set out in the current wording of the Labour Code. As it stands, employees may seek the protection of their personal data only through data protection regulation. Such cases are very rare and as a result, new proposals to introduce provisions related specifically to labour relations are a positive move.
If the Draft Code is adopted, most employers will have to reconsider and update their data protection policies relating to employees and those that do not have such policies will have to create them. This should enhance the awareness of personal data and privacy issues among both employers and employees. However, most of the proposed provisions are quite ambiguous and it may be difficult to ensure their application by employers. Data protection authorities may therefore consider the implementation of further control mechanisms in the near future.