CCTV monitoring in the workplace in Germany

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There have been some high-profile cases involving the use of CCTV in Germany in recent years, with a number of discount supermarket and drug-store chains admitting that they unlawfully monitored employees using CCTV, not only on business premises but also in staff rooms and bathrooms. The employers concerned had a variety of motives for their activities, from the prevention of criminal offences to the manipulation of works council elections and the monitoring of work performance.

These cases, which attracted a great deal of negative publicity, have made the legitimacy of CCTV in the workplace a contentious issue under German employment law. The German federal government has looked at consolidating the law in this area and presented a draft law regarding new employee data protection rules in 2009. It provided, in principle, for prohibition of concealed surveillance and a revision of the rules governing overt video surveillance. Overt video surveillance would be lawful for specific purposes (e.g. to protect property). As many different parties have lobbied against this draft law, it remains unclear whether and in what form it will come into force…

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