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ECJ, Case C‑34/21: Ope­ning clau­se of Art. 88 GDPR

Art. 88 GDPR is an ope­ning clau­se that allo­ws Mem­ber Sta­tes, “more spe­ci­fic pro­vi­si­ons” for the pro­tec­tion of employees in the are­as of coll­ec­ti­ve agree­ments, manage­ment, plan­ning and orga­nizati­on of work, equa­li­ty and diver­si­ty, health pro­tec­tion and dismissal.

The Wies­ba­den Admi­ni­stra­ti­ve Court (VG) had sub­mit­ted a que­sti­on to the ECJ in this regard. It con­cer­ned decrees of the Hes­si­an Mini­stry of Edu­ca­ti­on and Cul­tu­ral Affairs that allo­wed par­ti­ci­pa­ti­on in les­sons via video con­fe­rence during the Coro­na peri­od. It was sti­pu­la­ted that the con­nec­tion to the video con­fe­rence was only per­mis­si­ble with the con­sent of the stu­dents or their par­ents, but not the con­sent of the tea­chers – this was becau­se the Hes­si­an Data Pro­tec­tion Act per­mits the pro­ce­s­sing of employee data inso­far as this is neces­sa­ry for the estab­lish­ment or imple­men­ta­ti­on of the employment rela­ti­on­ship (the same as § Sec­tion 26 (1) of the Ger­man BDSG). A tea­chers’ staff coun­cil had filed a com­plaint against this.

The ECJ came to the con­clu­si­onthat Mem­ber Sta­tes may only adopt more spe­ci­fic rules in the area of employment if they com­ply with the requi­re­ments of Art. 88(2) GDPR. They must the­r­e­fo­re spe­cial mea­su­res to safe­guard the human dignity, legi­ti­ma­te inte­rests and fun­da­men­tal rights of the data sub­ject. Howe­ver, they can­not sim­ply repeat the GDPR, nor can they amend Art. 6 and 9 GDPR (legal grounds).

The VG Wies­ba­den must the­r­e­fo­re now assess whe­ther the rele­vant Hes­si­an pro­vi­si­on is appli­ca­ble or not com­pa­ti­ble with Art. 88 GDPR – if this should not be the case, Art. 6 GDPR will have to be exami­ned. The que­sti­on may also have an impact on Sec­tion 26 BDSG.

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