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Building the most friendly workplace environment. Without violating employment privacy regulations

When applying for a job, have you been asked about your personal affairs, such as your parents’ occupations, your marital status or any maternity plans, your intelligence quotient, health reports or even police criminal records and etc? Can a boss request from you to present the information or ask you something private which has nothing to do with the job you are looking for?
The purpose of this article is to discuss the relevant concerns to employment privacy.
 
What is employment privacy?

According to the “Employment Service Act” Article 5, Paragraph 2, Item 2, when recruiting or hiring employees, employers are prohibited from withholding a job applicant or employee’s identification card, work certificate, or any other certifying documents without their willing consents. Nor, can an employer request any job seekers or employees to submit their other personal documents unrelated to the employment.

The article 1-1 of “Enforcement Rules of the Employment Service Law” states that the scope of the so-called employment privacy is regulated in Article 5, Paragraph 2, Item 2. They include the following:

1. Physiological Information: Genetic tests, Medication tests, Medical treatment tests, HIV tests, Intelligence Quotient and Fingerprints etc.
2. Psychological Information: Psychological tests, Loyalty tests and Polygraph tests etc.
3. Personal life style information: Financial records, Criminal records, Maternity plans or Background investigations etc.

The private information even includes the personal information regulated in Article 2, Paragraph 1 of the “Personal Information Protection Act”. Private information, such as, the name, date of birth, I.D card number, passport number, characteristics, fingerprints, marital status, family, education, occupation, medical record, medical treatment, genetic data, sexual life, health record, criminal record, contact method, financial situation, social activities and other personal information that may be based to identify directly or indirectly a certain person.
 
What’s a violation of the employment privacy?

Are the job seekers or employees the only ones who have concerns about the issue of employment privacy? In fact, instead of avoiding violating the law, employers need to pay more attention to it. The following are some examples for your references:

Example 1:
Hsiao-hua applies for a job at company “A”. Hsiao-hua could be assigned to work abroad, so the boss asks Hsiao-hua if he has a girlfriend and if he plans to get married in the next few years?”

Comment to Example 1:
Since Hsiao-hua’s social status and marriage plans have no proper association with the job he is applying for, the boss is in violation of the “Employment Service Act” regulation, according to its Article 1-1 of.
 
Example 2:
Can a company who recruits the employee for the customer services and telephone sales information, in the hiring notice, request of the applicant to submit their criminal records and their personal credit references?

Comment to Example 2:
The criminal records and personal credit references are the so-called private information as stipulated by Article 1-1 of the “Enforcement Rules of Employment Service Law”. The relevant information collected is supposed to be in accordance with the specialization of the vacant positon. Information which is not associated with the job prerequisites is prohibited.
 
Example 3:
May applies for an administrative assistant position. The boss requests May to submit a physical report in which a syphilis test should be included on her report to the company. Is it right?

Comment to Example 3:
Unless the boss justifies why submitting results of syphilis test is necessary, the boss may be in violation of the regulation of the “Employment Service Act” because the privacy information requested has no proper association with the expectations of the job. If the job applied for has to deal with the matters which has something to do with frequently having physical contact of other’s body, or has to deal with the invasive prenatal procedure, such as a job for caring for patients, requesting of a syphilis test is necessary.
 
Are there any relevant penalties for violating the employee’s privacy rights?

When a business unit or an employer has been verified to be in violation of the regulations of an employee’s private protection as stipulated in the “Employment Service Act”, according to Article 67 of the “Employment Service Act” the competent authority may impose to the business unit a fine of more than NT$60,000 but less than NT$300,000.

Access to the grievance system

Job seekers or employees who find that the employer is in violation of the regulations of the employee’s privacy protections, they are eligible to submit concrete evidence and file a complaint with the nearby competent labor affairs authority, where the company is registered. We, the Taipei City Government, offer access to the complaint system. Anyone can file a complaint through the Taipei Hello website at https://hello.gov.taipei.
 
Gentle reminders

Any Taipei habitant who attends a job interview and is not employed, he or she can request of the company to erase and cease utilizing their personal information, since it is not necessary for the company to preserve their personal information. This is regulated in Article 11, Paragraph 3 of the “Personal Data Protection Act”: When the specific purpose of data collection no longer exists, or upon expiration of the relevant time period, the government agency shall on its own initiative or upon the request of the data subject, erase or cease processing using the personal data
Finally, herein is another reminder for our employed Taipei habitants and employers. Whether or not you are seeking a job or you are looking for an employee, if you have any questions or doubts about the regulations of employment privacy or their relevant issues, please don’t hesitate to go to the official website of the Department of Labor, Taipei City Government at https://ppt.cc/fc92Mx. Or please consult with our Employment Safety Division at 1999 or 02-27208889 ext. 7038. This is to protect the employer from violating the regulations and protect the employee’s rights and benefits from being violated.
Photo:Awards Ceremony of 2018 Private Employment Services Institution
Photo: Awards Ceremony of 2018 Private Employment Services Institution