個人資料保護辦公室

Gabinete para a Protecção de Dados Pessoais

Office for Personal Data Protection

Enquiry Case Notes
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No: 0237/C/2012

Title: Employees to submit proof of illness

Content:

    Company A, for its staff management and verification of employees’ sickness, asked its staff members who took sick leave to submit a sick note along with a proof of sickness. Company A consulted the GPDP whether this conforms to the Personal Data Protection Act.

Result:

    As Citizen A failed to provide detailed and specific information about the case, the GPDP could only provide the following opinions with regard to general data processing:
  According to Articles 4(1)(1) as well as 3(1) of the Personal Data Protection Act, the data processing in the current enquiry is subject to the Personal Data Protection Act (Law 8/2005).
  According to Article 7 of the same law, documents recording employees’ illness are considered as sensitive personal data. Aside from complying with the processing principles in Article 5 of the same Law (including the principle of proportionality), processing sensitive data requires higher level of legitimacy and security measures than those of processing ordinary personal data. Therefore, while collecting employees’ data, Company A must justify that the processing of such data is necessary to achieve its purposes. Otherwise, this processing may be suspected of violating the principle of proportionality, and may have negative effects on employees.
  Generally speaking, in terms of staff management, the legislations currently in force (including the Labor Relations Law) have no provisions mandatorily require employees who took sick leave to submit proof of illness. However, legislations have set out measures for a company to verify employees’ illness -- during employees’ absence due to illness or injury from accidents, an employer can designate doctors licensed by the MSAR Government to perform a physical examination as verification, but the cost is to be settled by the employer (please refer to Article 52 of the Labor Relations Law).
  For the trust between employers and employees, it is recommended, when formulating policies, a company to maintain communications with the staff, and to explain the rationale of the policies for common understanding.

Reference:
Please refer to "Personal Data Protection Act", articles 3,4,5,7 .

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