If the employer maintains a Twitter account, at least due to the "reply" functionality, the (total) works council has a right of co-determination from section 87 (1) no. 6 BetrVG.

LAG Hamburg, decision v. 13.09.2018 - 2 TaBV 5/18

The parties argue over a co-determination right of the general works council (GBR) in the operation of a Twitter account by the employer. This operates nationwide through various subsidiaries multiplex cinemas.

It maintains an account on the Internet platform Twitter, which was opened across the company for the cinema companies. This is controlled by the social media team in the central administration. The tweets of the employer are visible to every internet user. Public answers to the tweets are visible to at least all registered Twitter users and can not be deleted by the employer. According to her website, the employer uses Twitter for an "open exchange of views" with the moviegoers. The GBR requires the deactivation of the Twitter account until the conclusion of an agreement safeguarding the rights of participation under § 87 (1) no. 6 BetrVG. There is a possibility that postings on the behavior and performance of employees can be assigned to individual employees by name or situation. The Twitter page is therefore intended for employer-side monitoring.

On the other hand, the employer doubts that the Twitter account is a technical device that is intended to monitor employees' behavior and performance within the meaning of Section 87 (1) no. 6 BetrVG. Thus, the use of the Twitter account is not required to codetermine.

The Labor Court initially rejected the applications.

The complaint of the GBR was successful. The Landesarbeitsgericht decided that the GBR was entitled to the omission of the measure contrary to the provisions of section 87 (1) BetrVG. In the opinion of the court, the Twitter account constitutes a technical institution within the meaning of § 87 (1) No. 6 BetrVG. This right to codetermination is aimed at protecting employees against impairment of their personal rights through the use of technical monitoring devices. The Twitter Answer feature allows users to submit tweets about the behavior or performance of employees. These answers, at least for registered users, can be assigned to individual employees and used for behavior or performance control. This is comparable to a letter of complaint addressed to the employer. Because of the answering function, Twitter is therefore capable of gathering data on the performance and behavior of employees.

Durch öffentliche, an die Arbeitgeberin gerichtete Tweets werden die Arbeitnehmer zudem einem ständigen Überwachungsdruck ausgesetzt. Hierdurch werden sie in ihrem Persönlichkeitsrecht beeinträchtigt, was noch dadurch verstärkt werde, dass die Tweets arbeitgeberseitig nicht gelöscht werden können. Der Schutzzweck des § 87 Abs.1 Nr. 6 BetrVG gebiete hier keine einschränkende Auslegung.

Weiter stellt das Gericht verallgemeinernd fest, dass die Nutzung eines sozialen Netzwerks wie Twitter, das dem Arbeitgeber eine direkte und öffentliche Kommunikation mit seinen Kunden ermöglicht und von einer unbegrenzten Anzahl von Menschen genutzt wird, zum Schutz der Arbeitnehmer einer betrieblichen Regelung bedürfe.

Praxistipp:

The decision is in line with the FOPH - judgment from December 2016 (13.12.2016 - 1 ABR 7/15) - to co-determination in the use of an employer-side Facebook account.

The decision of the LAG specifies that it is sufficient if only one aspect of the technical equipment is subject to codetermination in order to reach an agreement with the works council. It is also not decisive for a codetermination obligation whether the employer actually intends to evaluate the data. The objective suitability for surveillance is crucial. Given current trends in the field of law, it is advisable to reach an agreement with the works council before introducing an employer-side social media tool.