EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

New rules on workplace privacy come into force

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Legislation on workplace privacy was reformed in Finland in October 2004. The new rules, governing drug tests, video surveillance and e-mail privacy, are in accordance with the proposals of the social partners. These issues are now increasingly to be determined through workplace-level bargaining.

The Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life (759/2004) came into force on 1 October 2004. It incorporates all of the proposals made unanimously by a tripartite working group in June 2003 (FI0307203F). These included the prohibition of routine drug tests, restrictions on the right of video surveillance, and the guaranteeing of limited e-mail privacy for workers. The Act also stipulates that the regulation of these issues is to take place through bargaining and consultation procedures at workplace level, as laid down in the Act on Cooperation within Undertakings (725/1978) (FI0309203T) and the Act on Cooperation in Government Departments and Agencies (651/1988). Employers are to discuss with worker representatives which groups of employees may be demanded to take drug tests, how video monitoring is implemented, and in what cases the employer may read workers’ e-mails.

The Central Organisation of Finnish Trade Unions (Suomen Ammattiliittojen Keskusjärjestö, SAK) welcomed the new rules on workplace privacy. It argued that they provide workers with increased legal protection and that it is very important that the rules must be bargained over. SAK also stated that the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life is first of its kind in the EU, in that drug tests for instance are not as yet regulated by legislation in the other Member States.

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