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Freshfields TQ

Technology quotient - the ability of an individual, team or organization to harness the power of technology

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The future of work – New rights for new times

Digital rights of employees in Spain

Further to our recent post about the new Spanish data protection law, here we will briefly explain what the new legislation provides on digital rights from an employment point of view.

Right to disconnect

Employees both in the private and public sector shall be entitled to disconnect any digital devices in order to ensure, outside of the applicable working time, respect on their resting periods, holidays, and personal and family privacy.  The aim is to prevent employees from suffering “computer fatigue”. 

Companies will have to put in place a policy for the responsible use of devices in order to ensure this right to disconnect in those cases where employees work totally or partially outside of the work place, namely when they do so from home by means of digital devices.

Monitoring of employees’ devices

The company will be entitled to monitor use of devices provided to employees for working purposes, with the only aim of ensuring compliance with the employment obligations, and to guarantee integrity of the devices.

The following requirements must be met (the law is in fact assuming the principles already set out by case law):

  • The Company must have specific policies on the use of digital devices, and must inform the employees of the scope and limits of use.
  • These policies must provide clear information on the scope of employee’s privacy. In any case, they will not prevent minimum expectations of privacy in accordance with usual practice and those rights acknowledged by law.
  • In order to be entitled to access the content of digital devices where the company has allowed private use, it will be necessary for the relevant policies to include specific provision of the use admitted, and provide as well how the employee’s privacy will be guaranteed.  Employees must be directly informed of the existence and content of these policies.

Video or audio recording of the employees

The law also provides that the company may process recordings obtained from cameras (photos or videos).It will also be possible to use geolocators provided this is used to monitor employees’ performance within the limits set out by law. No cameras might be installed in resting areas, toilettes, changing rooms, etc. In addition, employees must be informed of the existence and location of those recording devices, and the consequences that the relevant recordings may have for them.

Right to be forgotten 

The law also provides for the right to be forgotten, so that users could demand that their personal data is erased in certain circumstances.


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