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CCTV in the workplace - France

March 2014

When can CCTV be used in the French workplace?

CCTV cameras can be installed in the workplace for safety reasons and to prevent and investigate crime, theft or misconduct.

Where can CCTV be used?

CCTV cameras can be installed in the entrance and exit areas, emergency exits and corridors. They can also be placed in areas where goods or valuable items are stored. In order to respect employees' right to privacy, cameras should not record employees while they are in their offices, subject to certain exceptions (e.g. employees handling cash – but the camera should focus more on the cash register than the cashier). Employers should not place cameras in toilets, staffrooms, changing rooms or union offices.

Log in screenWho is authorised to watch the CCTV footage

Access to the CCTV footage must be restricted to the duly authorised persons (e.g. the Security Manager). These persons must be trained and well informed about the internal policies regarding the use of CCTV.

For how long can the employer retain CCTV footage?

The retention period should not exceed one month. Several days are usually sufficient to investigate an incident. If disciplinary action is initiated, the records will be removed from the system and kept for the duration of the proceedings.

What are the filing requirements?

Filing requirements may vary depending on the place where the CCTV cameras are installed.

Non-public areas

The surveillance system must be registered with the CNIL. A 'standard declaration' is to be filed for each unit or entity equipped with cameras.

Public areas

If the CCTV cameras film public places or areas, the CCTV system must be authorised by the Prefect of the Region ('Préfet de département') where it is installed.

What information must be provided?

question marksThe employee representatives, i.e. the Health and Safety Committee and the Works Council, should be informed and consulted before installation of CCTV. In addition, the employees, and any other data subject (i.e. visitors, customers if applicable, etc.), should be informed of:

  • the nature and the extent of the CCTV monitoring;
  • the name of the person in charge; and
  • the procedure in order to access to the footage,

by way of a warning notice placed where the CCTV is located.

Moreover, each employee must be individually informed of the use of CCTV in his or her employment contract or an internal memo.

What recourse does an employee have where the employer is in breach?

If an employer does not comply with the rules described above, the employee (or any data subject) can contact the CNIL, the relevant Labor Inspection Authority, the Prefecture (when the CCTV is in a public place), the police and/or a criminal court.

The CNIL can investigate on-site and take action against the organisation if it appears that:

  • the CCTV monitoring is disproportionate;
  • the information provided to the employees or data subjects about the monitoring is inadequate;
  • the retention period is excessive; or
  • the security measures are inadequate.

For instance, in May 2013, the French company Professional Service Consulting was given a €10.000 fine by the CNIL for disproportionate use of CCTV and failure to give adequate information to its employees about it.

Conclusion

French flagMonitoring is now part of our everyday life. However, since 2010, the number of complaints from employees and data subjects in France has noticeably increased (by around 32%). This trend is likely to continue as monitoring technologies (like facial recognition systems) are developing fast and becoming increasingly intrusive and stressful for individuals. Employers should ensure that any CCTV monitoring activity is legitimate and respects their employees' right to privacy.

If you have any questions on this article or would like to propose a subject to be addressed by the Global Data Hub please contact us.

CCTV in the workplace
Diane Carpentier

Diane Carpentier      


Diane looks at the regulation of CCTV in the workplace in France.

"Employers should ensure that any CCTV monitoring activity is legitimate and respects their employees' right to privacy."