Video-surveillance of employees
Do you need a permit?
Only public authorities and others carrying out a task in the interest of the general public need to apply for a permit and only if they are monitoring an area to which the general public has access. This means that a public authority that wishes to use video-surveillance of a staff area does not need a permit.
If a permit is not needed according to the Swedish Camera Surveillance Act you still need to comply with the rules set out in GDPR. This means that the controller is obliged to carry out the assessments and documentation required by GDPR. In case of an audit by IMY where video-surveillance is found to be not in accordance with applicable rules and regulations, a fine may be imposed.
Does the need for video-surveillance override the right to privacy?
At a place of work many people pass through or spend a large part of their day. Employees generally have a strong interest in not being monitored carrying out their daily work. An employer therefore needs to have strong reasons to be allowed to monitor employees through video-surveillance.
Due to the imbalance of power between employees and their employers, consent should in general not be used as a legal ground for video-surveillance. It is also difficult to use consent as a legal ground since every person being filmed – including external visitors – must have left their consent before the processing of data (video-surveillance) has begun. If no other legal ground is applicable, video-surveillance is only allowed if the need of the surveillance is greater that the individuals’ interest in not being monitored, a so called balance of interests.
There are several circumstances to take into consideration when determining if video-surveillance is allowed or not, including:
- The purpose of video-surveillance
- The need to use video-surveillance
- Possible alternative measures
- What periods of time the video-surveillance is ongoing
- The size of the area under video-surveillance
- How sensitive the space is to someone’s privacy
- How long the data will be stored
- Who will be able to access the data
It is important to limit the video-surveillance so that you don’t monitor more than what is necessary. If you, for example, have a problem with burglary outside of normal working hours, there is no need for around the clock video-surveillance.
It is not allowed to use video-surveillance to control the employees’ work. IMY has also determined that it is in general not allowed to use video-surveillance of areas used for changing or recreation, e.g. changing rooms or lunch rooms, or to record sound when conducting video-surveillance of a work place.
In order for video recordings of a work place intended to prevent crime to be allowed, there must be a need for surveillance of every space placed under surveillance. Usually every area under surveillance needs to be exposed to crime. If there is an issue with unauthorised persons in the workplace alternative measures imposing less of an infringement to people’s privacy should be tested first. Such alternative measures may be installing locks, alarms and gates or hiring security staff.
Examples of video-surveillance of workplaces that could be allowed, provided that you comply with the rules of GDPR and the Swedish Camera Surveillance Act:
- Real time video-surveillance of a particularly hazardous industrial manufacturing process with the purpose of preventing accidents.
- Video-surveillance of a retail space to prevent e.g. robbery or theft.
- Video-surveillance of small spaces where there is an increased risk of crime, for instance because valuable property is stored there. It is, however, normally required that measures have been taken to reduce the processing of personal data. Such measures may be that only a limited number of people are allowed to access the area for a short period of time to conduct specific tasks.
Examples of video-surveillance of workplaces that is NOT allowed:
- Video-surveillance used by the employer to systematically control the employees’ work performances.
- Video-surveillance of areas where the employees change clothes or have breaks, e.g. changing rooms and lunch rooms.
- Video-surveillance recording sound is generally not permitted at a workplace.
It is important to remember that it is not allowed to add new purposes for video-surveillance if the new purpose is not compatible with the original purpose. An employer is, for instance, not allowed to initiate video-surveillance with the purpose of preventing crime and then using the video material to examine how often the employees go on breaks.
Inform of video-surveillance
It is mandatory to inform of the video-surveillance using visible signs or by other active means. It needs to be clear through signs which areas are under video-surveillance. The sign should contain intelligible and easily accessible information of, inter alia, the purpose of the surveillance and contact information for the controller. It is not allowed to put up hidden cameras and not inform the subject of the video-surveillance.
Storage time and access
Data collected through video-surveillance is covered by confidentiality. This entails that images of persons from video-surveillance cannot be shared with other employers or published online. It is neither allowed to share images of suspected offenders to others at the workplace or to other workplaces. You as an employer can, however, share the material with the police or other crimefighting agencies who in turn can decide if there is a need to share the material with others. Remember to never store recorded material longer than what is necessary for the purpose of the video-surveillance.
Data Protection Impact Assessment
Employers wanting to use video-surveillance of a workplace need to consider if there is a need for a data protection impact assessment before initiating video-surveillance.
Data Protection Impact Assessment before the use of video-surveillance.
Negotiations with the union
Keep in mind that under certain circumstances the employer has an obligation to negotiate with trade unions in accordance with 11-14 §§ Employment (Co-Determination in the Workplace) Act (Lag (1976:580) om medbestämmande i arbetslivet), before initiating video-surveillance.
About the information on this page
If the information in English is different from the Swedish version of this page, the Swedish version applies.