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New German Act on Employee Data Privacy Likely

Companies with employees in Germany should pay attention to data privacy legislation that is likely to affect their operations this year because the German government’s ruling coalition has unexpectedly announced that it intends to soon pass employee data protection legislation. The legislation has been highly debated since it was first released in 2010. The revised bill will likely be consulted in the German parliament in late January, and the law would take effect six months after enactment. The new provisions would impose additional restrictions on employers; provide little clarity about which data processes are permissible; and will likely remain in effect even after the passage of the EU’s proposed Data Protection Regulation. And in light of the six-month implementation deadline, employers in Germany will be under considerable time pressure to prepare for compliance. The proposed law would also require most companies to change existing HR data privacy compliance programs and policies. Employers violating the bill’s requirements would be liable for fines of up to 300,000 Euros per infringement. And employees will be able to claim damages for alleged infringements and works councils can apply for injunctive relief.

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