Recently, the Berlin-Brandenburg Regional Labor Court ruled on the rights of an employer to check browsing history without the employee’s consent.

Orrick’s German employment team published a client newsletter about this judgment which can also be found here.

According to this newsletter entry, two issues that employers have been struggling with are now eased:

  1. Employers are free to choose whether they allow their employees the private use of the Internet. However, it is also clarified that an employee does not have any right to private use of the Internet on workplace computers unless freely granted by the employer.
  2. The unauthorized private use of the Internet at the workplace can justify a termination of employment with immediate effect.

The newsletter entry also emphasizes the fact that in practice, there is often great uncertainty regarding the question of how a breach of the prohibition of private use or excessive private use of the Internet outside the permitted limits can be proven.

Apart from this judgment, the German data protection authorities recently published a general guideline for the use of email and other internet services at the workplace which will be helpful for all companies with business establishments in Germany. We will provide an analysis of this guideline in which we also show the impact of the Regional Labor Court of Berlin’s decision on employee privacy at work place shortly.