The Working Party set up under Article 29 of Directive 95/46/EC is an independent European advisory body on data protection and privacy. Their recently published Opinion (Opinion 2/2017, adopted 8 June 2017) provides a useful overview of how recruitment agencies and employers should utilise social media when reviewing prospective candidates.

Through the existence of profiles on social media, and the development of new analytical technologies, employers have (or can obtain) the technical capability of permanently screening employees by collecting information regarding their friends, opinions, beliefs, interests, habits, whereabouts, attitudes and behaviours therefore capturing data, including sensitive data, relating to the employee’s private and family life.

The use of social media by some recruitment agencies and employers is widespread and it is relatively common for user profiles to be publicly viewable depending on the settings chosen by the account holder. As a result, employers may believe that inspecting the social media profiles of prospective candidates can be justified during their recruitment processes. This may also be the case for other publicly available information about the potential employee. However, employers should not assume that merely because an individual’s social media profile is publicly available they are then allowed to process those data for their own purposes. A legal ground is required for this processing, such as legitimate interest. In this context the employer should—prior to the inspection of a social media profile—take into account whether the social media profile of the applicant is related to business or private purposes.

Moreover, employers should refrain from requiring an employee, or a job applicant, access to information that he or she shares with others through social networking.

In addition, employers are only allowed to collect and process personal data relating to job applicants to the extent that the collection of those data is necessary and relevant to the performance of the job which is being applied for.

Printable Version: InBrief – Article 29 Social Media and Recruitment

The material contained herein is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice. All rights reserved. If you require advice or further information, please contact Barry Crushell, Carmel Byrne, or your usual Aperture Partners contact. ©Aperture Partners 2017.