Reopening Well: Balancing Employee Privacy With Employee Safety

Corporate Compliance Insights
9 minute read | August.18.2020

Consumer privacy has been a key area of focus over the past several years, but as companies begin return-to-work operations, they discover that employee privacy looms large as well. Well-intentioned companies seeking to keep employees safe risk incurring penalties from a variety of agencies based on a number of different statutes.

Employers must honor privacy rights when they obtain, use or disclose personal information of their employees and other data subjects, but there are steps companies can take to maximize workplace safety while also respecting employee privacy.

Local and Global Guidance

Regulators such as the California attorney general, the New York Department of Public Health (NYDPH) and the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) have consistently emphasized that privacy regulations remain in full force during this pandemic. As a consequence, every company needs to be careful about how it collects and shares personal information about its employee's health, which could limit activities ordinarily deemed essential — such as contact tracing.