Under Italian Law “remote controls” on employees is governed by article 4, Law 300 of 1970 (Workers' Statute).
■ Remote control of employees is legitimate under certain conditions.
Specifically, there is the possibility of using audiovisual equipment and other tools of remote control exclusively for organizational and production needs, for job security and for the protection of company assets.
For this purpose, it is necessary to sign a collective agreement with the internal Trade Union Representatives. In lack of agreement, the employer can seek the authorization from the Labour Inspectors’ Office.
The above general rule does not apply to the tools used by the worker for performing their duties (e.g. PCs, tablets, smartphones...): in this case there is no need of prior authorization to use the information and data collected for “all purposes relating to the employment relationship” (including grievance procedures).
What above provided that: (1) the worker is given adequate information on the operating mode of the instruments and controls (2) there is compliance with the provisions of Italian law on Privacy.
■ In the last year the Italian Data Protection Authority has given its guidelines on how to be compliant with the above legislation with reference to certain working tools.
For example on September 8, 2016 the Italian Data Protection Authority published its decision concerning the possibility to use a specific App containing GPS features installed on employees’ smartphone devices aimed at recording the entry and exit time from work.
The Authority stated that personal data relating to geolocation should be treated taking special precautions, especially if the GPS is installed on smartphone devices, that are intended to “follow” the person also after the working time and out of the workplace: therefore this treatment presents specific risks for the freedom, rights and dignity of the employee in accordance with Article 17 of the Italian Privacy Code.
This special caution, however, has to be balanced with the employer’s right to control that the log in and out is actually carried out at the work place and not elsewhere.
In conclusion the Authority authorized the use of the App with some precautions, i.e. requiring that the employer (1) does not activate geolocation outside working hours; (2) configures the system so that an icon on the device screen shows if the tracking function is active.
Furthermore on 13 July 2016, the Authority published another recommendation that defines which software can be considered work tools (and which not).
Sofware aimed at constantly monitoring, filtering, controlling and tracking the activity of employee in a way not perceivable by the user cannot be considered work tools.
On the contrary, email accounts and internet services are work tools as well as such software useful to grant a safe use of the IT System (web filtering, anti-virus, firewall etc.).
On 7 November 2016 the National Labour stated that tools and devices that are necessary for the workers to fulfill their job duties can be considered work equipment, devices.
Differently, the geolocation systems, apart from specific cases, must generally be considered an “additional element” so that the employer must get the agreement with Unions or the authorization of the Labour Inspectorate.