The new Data Protection Act recently entered into force, introducing a number of so-called 'digital rights'. The Spanish legal system already provides a framework regarding the use of digital devices at work and how employers can exercise control over them in view of employees' right to privacy. Although the act has introduced no significant changes in this regard, employees' right to privacy regarding the use of digital devices at work has now been set out in law.
The new Data Protection Act was recently published in the Official State Gazette, transposing the EU General Data Protection Regulation into Spanish law. In addition, the act has introduced a number of so-called 'digital rights' which directly concern employees, including the right to privacy in the use of technological devices at work and the right to disconnect from work.
The Navarre High Court recently held that an employer had been justified in dismissing an employee for taking her paid annual leave on dates that were unauthorised by the employer. Following this judgment, employees who ignore their employer's instructions regarding the period during which paid annual leave can be taken run the significant risk of being dismissed on disciplinary grounds for disobeying their employer's orders and breaching their contractual good faith obligation.
The employment courts recently expanded the scope of the rights and privileges granted to employees who exercise their right to request a reduction of their working hours, including to take care of a child under 12 years old. A recent Supreme Court decision represents another step forward in recognising these rights when employees are dismissed and the dismissal is declared null and void by an employment court.
Absenteeism costs Spanish companies approximately €77 billion a year and has become such a pressing issue that the Ministry of Finance has announced measures to combat it in the public sector. Companies must be proactive in implementing measures and controls to reduce absenteeism in order to raise employee awareness of such impact and enable them to avoid the implementation of coercive measures.