Lorem Ipsm Dolor

UK: French Regulator’s €32 million positive in opposition to Amazon France Logistique demonstrates the excessive bar for justifying intrusive monitoring of workers


Amazon France Logistique (“AFL“), a subsidiary of Amazon EU SARL, is accountable for managing Amazon’s giant French distribution centres (the place parcels are obtained, saved and ready for supply).

Staff in AFL warehouses have been required to make use of particular person scanners, which regularly gather information on (i) how shortly gadgets are scanned and (ii) how a lot downtime between scans. The scanners enabled AFL to report potential or precise errors by workers and to observe their productiveness in actual time. AFL saved this information for 31 days and used it to plan work schedules, commonly assess its workers and to determine wants for coaching. AFL additionally deployed video surveillance at sure warehouses.

In November 2019, following a number of media studies on AFL’s practices, the French Information Safety Authority (the CNIL) started an investigation, together with a collection of web site inspections. In July 2023, the CNIL held that AFL had dedicated a number of breaches of the Normal Information Safety Regulation (“EU GDPR“). Specifically:

  • Article 5.1c – Failure to adjust to the precept of ‘information minimisation’ within the retention of all the info from scanners for 31 days, relatively than retaining solely aggregated information which might obtain the identical consequence;
  • Article 6 – Failure to have a lawful foundation for processing of non-public information gathered by way of the monitoring actions – the CNIL thought-about AFL was unable to rely on reputable pursuits because the monitoring actions have been disproportionate;
  • Articles 12 and 13 – Failure to supply entry to the privateness coverage for non permanent staff, and a failure to supply the required data to workers and guests to these warehouses the place video surveillance was deployed;
  • Article 32 – Failure to make sure that private information gathered was sufficiently safe the place the video surveillance software program had insufficient passwords and account sharing was prevalent.

Consequently, in December 2023 AFL have been issued with a positive of €32 million.

Key Factors:

1. Relevance for UK employers: Whereas the CNIL’s determination just isn’t binding on the UK, it raises a number of attention-grabbing points for UK and European companies alike.

Firstly, the related components of the EU GDPR and the UK GDPR are nonetheless considerably related. For instance, underneath each laws, employers can solely depend on the lawful foundation of reputable curiosity, offered that it doesn’t trigger a disproportionate assault on the rights, freedoms and pursuits of workers. Private information should be retained now not than essential, should be stored safe and information topics must be knowledgeable of how their private information is processed. Employers within the UK may also must fastidiously weigh such curiosity in opposition to the extent of the intrusion into their workers’ privateness.

Secondly, the identical balancing act is important on UK employers in search of to hold out monitoring underneath the case legislation of the European Courtroom of Human Rights, which nonetheless applies throughout the UK and was unaffected by Brexit.

The ICO produced stand-alone steering on office monitoring in October 2023 which additionally refers back to the want for a balancing act and extra usually echoes the identical obligations as are thought-about within the CNIL judgment. It’s clear monitoring of workers, together with specifically using applied sciences, are an space of curiosity for the UK regulator.

2. Affect on workers: It shouldn’t be assumed {that a} reputable enterprise curiosity will outweigh the affect of monitoring actions, as perceived from the staff’ perspective.AFL had sought to justify the monitoring by reference to the size and complexity of its operations, and the tight timeframes and buyer expectations concerned, all of which rendered exact and widespread monitoring essential. The CNIL didn’t problem that AFL had a reputable enterprise curiosity in making certain the standard and security of its processes in its logistics centres, each for its buyer and its workers.

Nonetheless the CNIL discovered that AFL’s practices amounted to extreme monitoring, leading to a disproportionate affect. This was notably due to the size of the measures which affected numerous individuals. Apparently the CNIL additionally took under consideration the affect on worker morale (i.e. the strain placed on workers on account of such in depth monitoring). The CNIL in the end discovered that AFL may obtain its reputable curiosity by way of different, much less intrusive means (not least the quite a few different real-time information which was accessible to AFL).

It is likely to be thought that AFL’s measures (and its enterprise pursuits) have been particular to the calls for and expectations of the logistics sector, and have been accordingly rather more invasive than what is likely to be anticipated within the typical monitoring of workplace staff. Nonetheless, applied sciences for monitoring workplace staff can be thought-about invasive by these workers on the receiving finish, equivalent to computerized screenshots at common intervals or notifications that staff are idle or away from their desks. Many such applied sciences can entice press consideration within the occasion of problem by workers.

In 2023, the ICO printed analysis which famous that 70% of individuals surveyed thought-about that “they might discover monitoring within the office intrusive and fewer than one in 5 (19%) individuals would really feel comfy taking a brand new job in the event that they knew that their employer can be monitoring them.”

This, and CNIL’s give attention to morale, emphasise the necessity for employers to fastidiously take into account the affect on workers, together with from the staff’ perspective. It’s price remembering that the extra invasive the measures vis-à-vis people, the stronger the reputable enterprise curiosity should be to outweigh the affect. This level turns into extra related with the event of expertise to allow employers to observe workers in a extra exact and in depth method.

3. Privateness Insurance policies and Data Rights: The CNIL notably discovered that, till April 2020, AFL’s non permanent staff had not been correctly knowledgeable of the info processing measures in place. While AFL had made the relevant privateness coverage accessible by way of its intranet, the CNIL thought-about that it was insufficient as a result of the coverage was neither immediately offered to the non permanent staff, nor have been such staff invited to learn it.

Moreover the CNIL discovered that posters within the related warehouses which knowledgeable workers and guests of using video surveillance didn’t, per the necessities of the GDPR, point out (i) the period of knowledge retention, (ii) the correct to lift a criticism with the CNIL, and (iii) the contact particulars of the info safety officer. These weren’t offered in another media or paperwork.Within the UK the ICO is at present consulting on draft steering, which incorporates steps employers ought to take to carry privateness insurance policies to the eye of staff.

Employers within the UK ought to keep away from solely counting on intranet websites or different singular technique of communication to tell workers, and, on a precautionary foundation, could want to take into account a ‘belts and braces’ method involving pro-actively promoting privateness insurance policies regularly throughout a number of platforms.

Conclusion: The important thing questions for firms popping out of this determination are: 1) is it essential to undertake the proposed monitoring (or would one thing much less intrusive be adequate), and a pair of) is the extent of that monitoring cheap and proportionate? The CNIL judgment can also be a cautionary story about making certain all workers (together with non permanent workers) have entry to the employer’s privateness coverage and the place third events are being monitored too (e.g. guests) that they’re made conscious of the monitoring and the entire prescribed data is contained in these communications.

Key Contacts

Christine Young

Sian McKinley

Josh Peters

Leave a Comment

Refund Reason