Digitalization Challenges Employers and Works Councils.

 Digital concepts have shown us that many things are possible, but not everything is welcome or allowed.


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Digitalisierung fordert Arbeitgeber und Betriebsräte.

Digitalization is changing the world of work. This confronts employers and employees with completely new challenges. Digital concepts have shown us that many things are possible, but not everything is welcome or allowed. Moreover, the provisions of the General Data Protection Regulation (DSGVO) need to be considered.

Digital Human Resources Management

Intelligent software, self-learning algorithms and artificial intelligence offer many possibilities, especially in the field of personnel management. In this way,

  • the worker’s performance could be analyzed on the basis of data,
  • management would be able to make recommendations for training and promotions, and
  • recommendations for terminations could be made by the management.

Work processes and work performance are becoming more and more transparent. At the same time, increasing digitization is leading to legal uncertainties. Data must not be used randomly, as works councils fear increasing control of employees and react sensitively.

Promote Fair Performance

It is important to weigh up the legitimate interests of employers against the fundamental right to privacy protection. In doing so, the principle of proportionality needs to be taken into account to avoid legal disputes becoming more likely. ne thing is clear: the use of modern technology allows for more control options that support fair performance in companies.

Learn from the Case of H&M

Most recently, however, the fashion chain H&M was faced with accusations. It is alleged to have violated data protection regulations and to have collected and stored employee data without permission. Furthermore, a rating system of the mail order company Zalando also fell under criticism. On the other hand, according to a ruling of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), employers are obliged to systematically record working hours (C-55/18). According to a ruling by the Berlin Labor Court, however, a system using fingerprints is only allowed with the express consent of the employee (file number: 29 Ca 5451/19 – appealed to the Regional Labor Court Berlin-Brandenburg, file number: 10 Sa 2130/19).

Data Flows and Transparency

Furthermore, the employer has information obligations towards its employees regarding the handling of their data. Works councils also have corresponding information rights.

This can become a problem for employers. This is the case, for example, if they do not have the necessary information themselves. For example, they may not have access to this data themselves through the system provider. However, the management cannot rely on the position of not knowing. Companies must ensure they can provide all the necessary information.

This shows: Digitalization not only requires cooperation between employers and works councils, but also sound legal advice. In this way, companies avoid labor law disputes.