Protection of privacy at work and working with children

Data protection in working life

Employers can gather personal information on their employees for their own needs. However, the protection of privacy dictates that jobseekers and employees have the widest possible right to know and decide what kind of information is collected about them and how it is handled and processed. They also have the right to be assessed on the basis of accurate personal information.

The Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life lays down provisions on such matters as the processing of employees’ personal data, the processing of information on drug use, camera surveillance in the workplace, and retrieving email messages that belong to the employer.

The processing of employees’ personal data must also comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which entered into force on 25 May 2018. More information about the GDPR is available at the website of the Data Protection Ombudsman, for example.

There are provisions on the protection of employees’ privacy even in other legislation, such as the Security Clearance Act and the Information Society Code.

The processing of personal data is also have to comply with the Data Protection Act, which repealed the Personal Data Act.

The authorities overseeing compliance with the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life are the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) authorities and the Office of the Data Protection Ombudsman.

The brochure describing the Act on the Protection of Privacy in Working Life is being updated following the entry into force of the General Data Protection Regulation.

Further information:

Guidance and supervision of  labour legislation: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha)
Law-drafting: Johanna Ylitepsa, johanna.ylitepsa(at)tem.fi; Elli Nieminen, elli.nieminen(at)tem.fi

Working with children

The Act on Checking the Criminal Background of Persons working with Children is an attempt to reduce the risk of children being sexually exploited, becoming victims of violence, or being tempted into using drugs. The procedure of checking criminal background applies when someone is recruited for a job in which a nature of work provide a change for close interaction with children. 

The procedure for checking the criminal background makes it possible to clarify a person’s criminal background in the following situations:

  • at recruitment (employment or civil service relationships)
  • when applying for a permit or when realizing the duty to report the provision of private social and health services
  • when preparing a commission agreement on family care to be provided for a minor
  • when ordering a person to non-military service when making an agreement on work-try-outs
  • for acquiring of the services of morning and afternoon activities as referred to in the Basic Education Act.

The Act provides among other things as follows:

  • on the employer’s obligation to ask a job applicant
  • or an applicant for a service relationship to produce an extract from the criminal record, when the person in question is about to be recruited for work with minors
  • on the extract from the criminal record of a family carer
  • on the extract from the criminal record of providers of private social services or private health care services
  • on the prohibition to take any copies of the extract from the criminal record
  • on the period of validity of the extract from the criminal record
  • on the presentation of the extract from the criminal record and the returning of the extract
  • on confidentiality on advertisements for vacancies and
  • on penal provisions.

A private person can obtain a criminal record extract on him/herself from the Finnish Criminal Records Register provided against a fee based on the actual costs arising from the provision of the extract if he or she is to be selected to work with children.

Publications

Further information:

Guidance and supervision of  labour legislation: Occupational Safety and Health Administration (Osha)
Law-drafting: Päivi Kantanen, paivi.kantanen(at)tem.fi