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Norwegian Data Protection Authority issued 40,000 euro fine to company for forwarding an employee's emails internally while on sick leave.

Julie Austin



In a decision that will be of interest to employers in Ireland, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority (DPA) has fined a company €40,000 (NOK 400,000) for setting up automatic forwarding of an employee's emails while on sick leave – see press release here.

According to the Norwegian DPA, the forwarding was in violation of the national regulations concerning an employer’s access to e-mail inboxes and other electronic information, as well as the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation concerning legal basis, informing the data subject and the obligation to consider the employee’s objections.

The automatic forwarding in this case was activated as a result of the employee's absence due to illness but remained active for more than a month. The company has reportedly appealed the decision and it will be interesting to see the outcome of this appeal.

Employee monitoring in Ireland

If an employer wishes to monitor an employee's emails, they must comply with the provisions of the GDPR which, in short, require that:
  • the employer must have a legal basis for the processing (such as legitimate interest)
  • the monitoring must not be excessive - employers should look at whether there are less intrusive measures available; and
  • the employee should be on notice of the monitoring.

This case is a timely reminder for employers to ensure that have in place comprehensive employee monitoring policies. Should you require any assistance in this regard please contact us and we would be happy to assist.

Wriiten by Julie Austin and Ellie Kavanagh. 

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