The president of the Italian privacy authority has reiterated the need for employers to follow the safeguards set out in Italian national legislation when considering closed-circuit television (CCTV) surveillance. This follows a decision of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) published in late 2019 that approved the actions of a Spanish supermarket that installed CCTV even though the employees were unaware of its installation. The ECHR concluded the installation was appropriate because: (a) serious inconsistencies in stock levels had been registered causing huge losses, and (b) installation was purely to find out by whom these thefts were carried out

As a result of this decision, employers may want to be cautious about installing cameras without informing employees. In the majority of cases, employers are still required to inform employees before installing cameras.

In particular, employers are required to continue to comply with the national provisions on workplace surveillance and with the conditions set out by art. 4 Law 300/1970.

To install CCTV cameras, employers must have:

  1. organizational-productive grounds, occupational safety reasons, or reasons linked to company goods’ safety which justify the CCTV installment; and
  2. a previous agreement with the trade union representatives in the company or the internal labor committee or, lacking such an agreement, a previous authorization from the competent labour office.

Given all the above, employers operating in Italy should be aware that, despite the European Court’s decision, the European Union and national legislation on privacy and workplace surveillance must still be fully respected.

Nonetheless, the holding by the European Court provides employers with valuable insights: the necessary balance between the privacy rights of employees not to be monitored by their employer and not to be recorded on CCTV without prior knowledge and the right of the employer to safeguard company goods under specific extraordinary circumstances can lean toward the employer’s right to keep its company goods safe.

Written by Claudia Di Biase and Sofia Bargellini of SZA and Roger James of Ogletree Deakins

© 2020 SZA and Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.