Businesses have no right to take employees temperatures, says data protection agency

The national commission for data protection (CNPD) considers that businesses have no right to take the temperatures of their employees in spite of the situation of Covid-19 pandemic and the fact that Portugal is in a State of Emergency.

Says a note published on the commission’s website: “the necessity for prevention of contagion by the new coronavirus does not legitimise the adoption of any and all measures by employers”. In short, “an employing entity cannot proceed to take and register body temperatures of its workers, or any other information relating to those employees’ health and/ or possible risky behaviours”.

The three-page guidance stresses that no law has transferred a function that is “exclusive to health authorities” to employers, nor have they been so delegated.

How this guidance affects the government’s plan for the reopening of restaurants (click here) – and possibly cafés and bars – remains to be seen.

As the CNPD stresses, it is entirely justified to seek to prevent contamination by intensifying measures of hygiene within a company, adopting social distancing rules for employees, or even increasing vigilance, but this does not extend to other acts of monitoring, which remain the responsibility of the workers themselves, or health professionals.

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